€107,000 in funding approved for walking trails around bogs

Minister of State with responsibility for heritage Malcolm Noonan has announced today (Friday, September 4) that grant funding of just under €107,000 has been approved for peatland community initiatives this year.

The funding will go towards eight community groups and organisations for projects focused on the conservation and revitalisation of raised bog Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Natural Heritage Areas (NHA) and other peatland areas.

Deputy Noonan said that due to the “level of interest and the quality of applications” received from community groups and environmental organisations under the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, the award was more than double the original allocation of funding of €50,000.

‘Championing of conservation benefits’

This funding is aimed at supporting the “development, maintenance and upgrading of walking trails and looped walks” around bogs in counties Offaly, Roscommon, Cavan, Galway and Westmeath.

This includes: a peat carbon project; the installation of signage and way finder makers on bog roads; the production of promotional videos and website creation; the installation of recycled plastic seating and wooden bench seats; a moth trap and arachnid study; the restoration of old bog equipment; the erection of wooden access control gates; and waste removal.

Commenting, deputy Noonan said that during the pandemic, people “reconnected with nature and the outdoors” and that it is encouraging to see “such a sense of place and championing of conservation benefits for local peatlands”.

“Peatlands are a unique habitat that we have in Ireland and play an important role in supporting biodiversity and climate action for the benefit of all.

“The involvement of local community groups is paramount to biodiversity conservation.”

The 2021 Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme is open for applications for funding until November 20.

‘Tackling issues with climate change’

As National Heritage Week was celebrated around the country last month, deputy Noonan drew specific attention to the role of restoring bogs in “tackling issues with climate change” in Ireland.

“These living bogs are of great importance for the delivery of eco-system services such as: biodiversity; flood control; and in the reduction of carbon emissions,” Noonan said.

Restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands plays an important part in tackling the issues of climate change for Ireland and will help in moving Ireland towards carbon neutrality in its land use.

According to Noonan, it is estimated that the restoration of over 1,800ha of raised bog – which is being funded under the carbon tax fund – will contribute to a long-term reduction of emissions of 4,945t of carbon dioxide per year.