In the week leading up to International Bog Day on 25 July Environment Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, visited Peatland Park to see the work carried out by the CANN partnership to restore lowland bog at Peatlands Park.
During a tour of the peatland activity led by Ulster Wildlife, the Minister was shown some of the conservation measures that have been implemented. These included control of Rhododendron, blocking ditches and the trialling of a bog moss restoration method pioneered in Canada.
Speaking after the tour, Minister Poots said: “My Department recognise the importance of peatland restoration as a nature-based solution for addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis. I am pleased to see at first hand the work being undertaken at Peatlands Park SAC by Ulster Wildlife and their partners, in collaboration with my Department as owner of the park.
“I congratulate all of those who have partnered in this project. I recognise the success of the CANN project and the important role that Interreg Va has played in funding these important nature recovery programmes. DAERA will continue to work in partnership with other organisations to source funding for peatland restoration."
The Minister was also given the opportunity to hear and discuss with Ulster Wildlife their forward research on peatlands for COP26 that aims to enhance the evidence on peatland condition, Greenhouse Gas emissions and restoration potential through their Accelerating Peatland Restoration Project.
The Minister concluded: “I welcome Ulster Wildlife’s efforts in supporting delivery of Northern Ireland’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target for greenhouse gas emissions, as set out by the Committee on Climate Change.
“A public consultation on a draft Northern Ireland Peatland Strategy was launched on the 9 June 2021 and I am keen to hear a range of views about our proposals to take forward peatland conservation and restoration over the next two decades."
Ian Garner, Ulster Wildlife said: “The Accelerating Peatland Restoration project will greatly improve our knowledge on the extent of our peatlands, their condition and Greenhouse Gas emissions. It is a collaborative project between The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, DAERA, Ulster Wildlife and The James Hutton Institute, which brings its expertise from similar work on Scottish peatlands.
“The Project will input to COP26 evidence and support strategic planning of future management approaches for peatlands, addressing the urgent need to restore our peatlands for long-term reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions and to reverse the loss of biodiversity. Accelerating Peatland Restoration Project will inform the DAEARA Peatland Strategy and we encourage anyone with an interest in conservation to respond to the DAERA Peatlands Strategy consultation.”
The public consultation on the draft Northern Ireland Peatland Strategy 2021-2040 is open until 1 September 2021 and is available on the DAERA website.
Notes to editors:
- DAERA have developed a draft Northern Ireland Peatland Strategy 2021-2040 which will which will provide a framework for conserving intact semi-natural peatlands and restoring degraded semi-natural peatlands. The public consultation on the draft document is open for 12 weeks from 9th June until 1st September 2021 and is available on the DAERA website.
- Collaborative Action for the Natural Network (CANN), funded under the INTERREG VA programme, is a cross-border environment project that aims to improve the condition of protected wetland habitats and to support priority species found within Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Scotland. This includes the development of conservation action plans and direct conservation actions to restore a suite of protected peatland habitats, including at Cuilcagh Mountain SAC, working closely with ecologists in Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
- With €9.4 million of funding from the INTERREG VA programme, the CANN project team is comprised of 11 partners, involving scientists, researchers, local authorities, charities and community organisations ((including Ulster Wildlife), led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The partners are producing Conservation Action Plans for a range of sites which are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and accumulatively account for over 25,000 hectares of land. Direct conservation actions carried out on 3,650 hectares will help and guide the habitats and species towards a favourable conservation status. The project has already begun to carry out large scale peatland restoration works at several sites with much more to be delivered by the end of the project.
- The INTERREG VA Programme for 2014-2020 was designed to create a more prosperous and sustainable cross-border region, involving Northern Ireland, the border counties of the Republic of Ireland and Western Scotland. It is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), although DAERA is the accountable department for the Environment theme and has an oversight role in ensuring that supported projects represent value for money as well as meeting the requirements of the INTERREG programme.
- Of particular relevance is Objective 2.1: Restoration of protected habitats and species which has provided almost ~€15M for the development of conservation action plans for Special Areas of Conservation and restoration of 4,500 ha of peatland and other wetland habitats.
- Peatlands Park is owned and managed by DAERA NIEA Regional Operations. The site is designated as an ASSI and SAC due to its woodlands, lowland raised bog and fen habitats.
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