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May 22, 2008

Irish Bogs Under Threat of Extinction

There's More to Bogs Than Turf

25 Years of the IPCC Active raised bogs (peat forming raised bogs) are seriously under threat of extinction in Ireland. Only 0.6% of active raised bog remains today. In the last ten years over a third of active raised bog (1,000ha) has been lost as a direct result of turf cutting taking place within protected peatlands.

Raised bogs are not being protected, despite their conservation designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) because turf cutting is being allowed to continue. The government has offered a generous compensation package for turbary rights holders to stop cutting turf on designated peatland sites. If active raised bog is to be saved from extinction in Ireland turbary rights holders in protected peatlands must cease cutting turf immediately and avail of the compensation.

As the turf-cutting season begins, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) would like to draw your attention to some of the values of peatlands and the importance of conserving them for future generations:

Habitat: Ireland contains over 50% of all the raised bog habitat remaining in Europe and internationally the blanket bogs of Ireland and the UK form the largest single contribution (10 - 15%) of this habitat in the world. 44% of NHAs and 50% of SACs in Ireland contain peatland habitat.

Wildlife: 49% of all endangered birds in Ireland occur on peatlands, most as breeding species. 23% of all endangered plants are peatland species and 26% of our mammals depend on peatlands in some phase of their life cycle. For example red grouse, otter and marsh saxifrage.

Climate change -­ the carbon store: In Ireland, peatlands store 1,200 million tons of carbon. Undisturbed peat accumulates carbon from the air at a rate of up to 0.7 tonnes per hectare per year.

Landscape: The landscape value of peatlands offers one of the few remaining areas of wilderness experience in Ireland today.

Social and economic uses: Peatlands have played an important role in the economies and identity of rural areas. Peatlands support many functions and activities such as agriculture and tourism.

Archaeology: Peatlands have been developing in the Ireland for 10,000 years. Because of the anaerobic conditions within peatlands they have preserved important artifacts and information on past environments. To date 3,893 archaeological sites have been recorded within peatlands. For example bog bodies and bog butter.

Health: People are an integral part of nature and biodiversity. Only by living in balance with other species and ecosystems can human health be sustained.

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council is a non-governmental organisation that was formed in 1982 to ensure the conservation of a representative sample of Irish bogs. Our activities include education and publicity, promoting environmental awareness, provision of information and encouraging the protection and conservation of our national heritage for the common good.  We own and manage a number of peatlands for conservation and we run the Bog of Allen Nature Centre, which is open to visitors and school groups.

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council is a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status.