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February 18, 2009

Bog to be Saved in Kildare

Great news for nature! The IPCC are buying a new bog; 3.5 hectares of the Bog of Allen, known as Lodge Bog Southwest.

The bog is being bought primarily for nature conservation and the protection of an endangered habitat. Another reason for conserving bogs is that active bogs take approximately  0.7 tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere per hectare, per year, and lock it up in the undecomposed plant remains that make up the peat. While locked in the peat, this carbon cannot contribute to climate change.

Putting it into perspective, one hectare containing 2m of peat can store approximately 8,000 tonnes of carbon. Initial research on the IPCC’s new site shows average peat depths of 7m. This means that the area stores roughly 98,000 tonnes of carbon. There’s more! The 3.5-hectare site could, when restored, will store even more carbon, 2.45 tonnes per year to be precise. A return transatlantic flight equates to around 3-4 tonnes of carbon, so could peatland restoration be used as a means of reducing our carbon footprint? “Most definitely!” says Cillian Breathnach, IPCC’s Conservation and Reserves officer.  

However, as we all know, bogs are being drained, cut and burned away at an alarming rate, releasing massive amounts of carbon to the atmosphere and further worsening climate change. David Wilson of UCD has estimated that the amount of carbon being released from Irish bogs due to these types of activities is resulting in the emission of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere per year. That’s the same amount of carbon as is released by all the cars on Irish roads each year.    

The bog that the IPCC are buying adjoins the Lodge Bog Reserve. Although the area was drained for turf cutting in the past, much of the vegetation remains intact. By restoring this area the hydrological regime of Lodge Bog will be further secured, thereby helping the bog to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

The site has great potential, as a reserve and as a research site that could form the basis of a change in peatland restoration practices in Ireland. This does have a price though…

The IPCC has launched a fundraising appeal for this project, which needs public support. The Lodge Bog South West Purchase and Restoration Project budget is €49,625 in 2009. This includes buying 3.5 hectares of land, blocking 1,975m of drains and sowing bog mosses on 0.5 hectare of bare peat. In an era of habitat loss and carbon footprints this could be your chance to give something back to nature and also clean our feet of some of that carbon that we all carry along with us. Restoration work has already begun and will continue on into the summer. It will involve everything from profiling and blocking of drains, to removal of invasive species.

“We will be using peatland restoration techniques, developed in Canada, that actually help the vital Sphagnum mosses to return to the bog. This will be the first time that this technique will be trialed in Ireland in the field.” Says Cillian.  If you would like to help with the restoration work or support the project financially, any help you give will be greatly appreciated and its effects felt far into the future.

For more information call the Irish Peatland Conservation Council on 045 – 860133 or e-mail