National Conservation Efforts
Ireland was originally home to 908,117 ha of blanket bog before a range of human led practices left the peatland landscape seriously depleted. The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) conducted an assessment of the conservation status of Irish peatlands which was then published in Ireland’s Peatland Conservation Action Plan 2020 – Halting the Loss of Peatland Biodiversity (IPCC, 2009). Findings from the IPCC 2009 Assessments demonstrated the extent to which peatlands in Ireland have been damaged, with only 28% of blanket resources remaining in a relatively intact status. A further 36% of blanket bog was reported as being lost from turf cutting practices that still have a serious impact on bogs today through industrial peat extraction (IPCC, n.d.). 28% of Ireland's landscape, originally home to blanket bogs, have also been lost due to large scale afforestation schemes. Overgrazing from sheep and invasive alien species were also listed as conservation threats to our native bogs (IPCC, n.d.).
Currently, 23% (269,267 ha) of peatlands are of conservation interest in Ireland (IPCC, n.d.). However many of them have no formal conservation designation by government. 736 peatland sites of conservation value are located in the Republic of Ireland while another 138 peatland sites are designated in Northern Ireland (IPCC, n.d.).
A range of rewetting and restoration schemes are being practised across the country. This work is aided by 98 recorded sites that have been restored to some degree and monitored by the IPCC, many of which still operate to facilitate peat production.
As part of the Irish government’s approach to the management of Ireland’s peatlands, The National Peatlands Strategy, published in 2016, contains a comprehensive list of actions aimed at preserving Ireland's peatlands. The first national management plan for Ireland’s raised bog Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) network 2017 - 2020 was then published in 2017. The plan sets national restoration targets for raised bog habitats and details how peatlands will be managed, conserved and restored in the future. The Government's National Climate Action Plan also commit a number of its actions with regards to implementing measures for peatland restoration and aims to restore/rewet all raised bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas within three cycles of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. Further information on the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan can be found here. The National Peatlands Strategy 2017 progress report can be found here. The 2012 EPA research report that informs on the delivery of sustainable peatland management can be found here.
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