Hackett announces €2.2 million for peatland projects

€2.2 million funding for two peatland projects has been announced by the Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett.

The project will be aimed at “finding better ways” to manage on-farm peat soils in the midlands.

The two projects were selected following an open call under the European Innovation Partnerships Initiative (EIP) and will be funded under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme.

Additional funding for a Rural Development Programme was announced at Budget 2021 for the period of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) transition.

The two projects that were selected for the funding are operated by Wetland Surveys Ireland and Green Restoration Ireland.

“Managing our soils in a way that captures and stores carbon can have huge climate benefits and projects like these, which involved close collaboration between scientists, ecologists and farmers, will deliver those benefits,” the minster said.

She added: “By working closely with the farmers, I know that these projects will co-develop measures to guide a future large-scale scheme to manage these soils.”

The objectives that were set out in the EIP open call were to protect the carbon stock and restore sequestration; maximise other eco-system benefits; and build resilience to the impacts of climate change at catchment/landscape level.

Minister Hackett said that the organisers of the successful projects will be expected to engage with farmers to co-develop a “comprehensive pilot scheme”, which will identify and implement appropriate actions and measures.

“These projects follow on from our recent investment in a National Soil Carbon Observatory and will develop our knowledge towards rewarding farmers who capture carbon,” Minister Hackett noted.

“They also follow on the considerable contribution the department made to World Wetlands Day this month as part of this government’s contribution to achieving our ambitious environmental goals,” she concluded.

The Wetlands Surveys Ireland project received around €1.11 million in funding, and will see farmers received a payment for the quality of their habitat, with an option of claiming additional payment for farm actions.

The Green Restoration Ireland project, which received the remainder of the funding, will work with landowners through “participatory learning and accessible advice” to transition land use from conventional farming to “economically viable” carbon farming methods.