Horticulture workforce to be upskilled in regenerating bogs for ‘carbon farming’

The Minister of State with responsibility for heritage Malcolm Noonan said he is proposing to set up a working group to look at eliminating the use of peat moss in the horticulture industry.

Deputy Noonan has published a report on the review of the use of peat moss in the gardening sector, which was prepared by an inter-agency working group.

The deputy said there are “significant positives and negatives arising from ending the use of peat moss”.

“There are difficult choices to be made – from how we garden as individuals to the economic and cultural impacts arising from any significant changes,” he added.

He is looking at establishing a working group made up of representatives from government departments, state agencies, environmental organisations and industry stakeholders.

Following the review, a number of suggestions have been made and the working group will be looking at:
  • Eliminating the use of peat moss in the amateur gardening sector in order to leave what remains in use for the industry sector to buy time to develop alternatives, enabling food security and to provide industry surety;
  • Graduating the elimination of the use of peat moss in the horticulture industry over an agreed period of years;
  • Finance and support for those workers whose skills cannot be accommodated in proposed alternative industries;
  • Investment in further research into the development, education and use of alternatives to peat moss;
  • Upskilling the existing workforce to regenerate the existing bogs for use in paludiculture, eco-tourism, carbon farming and tree farming;
  • Quantifying the value of the existing viable peatlands as carbon sinks and then determine a carbon market to incentivise owners and operators of peatlands to preserve, rewet or restore their assets.

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

Meanwhile, deputy Noonan has also announced 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.