Through the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19), the countrys Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has outlined 183 actions targeted at tackling climate change. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon energy systems for Irish society and in the process create a resilient, vibrant and sustainable country.
Peatlands and the communities around them in the Midlands region of Ireland are the countrys only Just Transition peatlands-based region. Ireland has a high proportion of Europes remaining peatlands, comprising almost 21% of the national land area, just under 1.5 million ha. This includes a variety of raised and blanket bogs, fens, and wet and dry heath many of which are recognised as priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive.
These peatlands have numerous values, including their potential as carbon sinks, along with manyother ecosystem services, and their significant level of biodiversity. Historically, Irelands peatlands were harvested predominantly for fuel. Industrial peat extraction and traditional and mechanical turf cutting have resulted in the loss of 47% of the original area of peatlands in Ireland over half a million hectares of land. Further, of the 1.475 million ha of peatlands in Ireland, approximately 80% are considered degraded. It is estimated that these degraded peatlands emit approximately 10 MtCO2eq each year.
Peatlands are embedded in Irelands culture and heritage, with a history of conflict and legal challenges. The involvement of multiple stakeholders and landowners, including communities, private landowners and public bodies, adds to the complicated task of restoring and protecting peatlands for their carbon storage, environmental and biodiversity potential.
LIFE IP Peatlands and People will target the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19). The project will use peatlands as a model to inspire behavioural change and build capacity and economy in a region of transition, catalysing the long-term implementation of the full plan. It will integrate actions from five sections of the CAP19: enterprise; agriculture, forestry and land use; waste and the circular economy; public sector leading by example; and citizen engagement, community leadership and just transition.
The project will collaborate locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to generate and share solutions, knowledge and content for a systemic transformation to a carbon neutral future using three pillars: a Peatlands Centre of Excellence; a Just Transition Accelerator; and a Peoples Discovery Attraction. LIFE IP Peatlands and People will engage and try to address the concerns of all stakeholders and in doing so help change perceptions of peat as solely a fuel source to instead viewing it as an important natural asset.
The projects key objectives are:
In addition to its own budget, the project hopes to facilitate the coordinated use of more than 127 million in complementary funding from public and private funds.
LIFE IP Peatlands and People will contribute to implementation of a wide range of international, EU and national legislation. At EU level, this includes: the biodiversity strategy for 2030; action plan for nature, people and the economy; numerous directives (the Birds, Habitats, Floods, Water Framework, Ambient Air Quality, Renewable Energy, Emissions Trading Scheme and Extractive Waste directives); the European Green Deal; Green InfrastructureEnhancing Europe's Natural Capital; the circular economy action plan; the 2030 framework for climate and energy; and the LULUCF Regulation.
Expected results: Peatlands Centre of Excellence
Just Transition Accelerator
Peoples Discovery Attraction