The conservation status of active raised bogs in Ireland is under increasing pressure due to a long history of mismanagement, most notably turf cutting and associated drainage. It is estimated that there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bogs; while only about 1 650 ha of the remaining ‘intact’ high bog can now be classified as ‘Active Raised Bog’. There is an urgent need to reverse this decline and improve the conservation status of active raised bogs, by developing and implementing restoration measures to restore these sites to favourable condition.
The overall objective of the LIFE Irish Raised Bogs project is to improve the conservation status of the Annex I Habitats Directive habitat ‘Active Raised Bog’, through the protection and restoration of 12 Natura 2000 network sites in the midlands of Ireland.
The specific objectives of the project are: To secure landowner cooperation and local community involvement and support; To raise water levels to create the necessary conditions for Active Raised Bog; To remove naturally regenerating trees and shrubs; To put in place fire protection measures; and To fence project sites where necessary.
Expected results: An initial indication of an improvement in the conservation status of Active Raised Bog (although it could take 10-30 years for definitive results); A total of 752 ha of Active Raised Bog restored across the 12 sites; A total of 2 649 ha of raised bog habitat improved by restoration works across the 12 sites; Around 182 km of drains blocked on high and cutover bog areas using over 15 000 dams to raise water levels; The clearance of naturally regenerating trees on up to 2 649 ha; Fire plans prepared for all project sites and a fire prevention campaign run; Up to 6 km of fencing erected where necessary; A heightened public awareness of the importance of Ireland's 53 raised bog SACs and support from local communities for the urgent long-term conservation and restoration measures needed; Increased employment opportunities for rural communities; EU added value provided in demonstrating how to implement policies requiring engagement with rural-dwelling citizens, who represent about half the total EU-28 population; and Project techniques’ manual for transferability and replication of best practices.