The peatlands community of Ireland and further afield is coming together for Peatlands Gathering 2021 later this week (Thursday, October 7).

The aim of the event is to highlight bogs, fens and wetlands as areas of great environmental and cultural importance, with key messages from the event to be shared at the upcoming Cop26 – UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this month.

According to the organisers, there are many significant developments, projects and other initiatives in the area of Irish peatlands.

With a view to sharing knowledge on these activities and identifying policy gaps, a collective of interested parties has come together to organise Peatlands Gathering 2021.

Global interest in Peatlands Gathering 2021

The event has attracted international attention, with 400 people already registered, including many from overseas, according to the organisers Natural Capital Ireland.

It will take place over a number of online sessions on October 7 and 8, and is free of charge to all participants and attendees.

There are also a number of field trips scheduled to bogs around Ireland for Saturday, October 9.

The event will be opened by Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, on Thursday (October 7), while Minister of State with responsibility for biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, will also be in attendance in a round-table discussion on Friday afternoon.

A programme of presentations and discussions has been prepared for the two days, with the formal contributors actively involved in a variety of peatland-related activities such as research on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded peatlands, community involvement and archaeological, agricultural and post-industrial use aspects.

Minister Noonan commented: “Peatlands are wells of natural and cultural heritage that have supported the Irish people for millennia in terms of livelihoods, climate, water regulation and biodiversity.

“With our deeper awareness and understanding of the values of nature, it is time to rethink our way of supporting these valuable ecosystems to build a sustainable pathway to living and working with peatlands.

“The gathering is a timely event to help forge a new beginning to reflect on how we can walk that path together.”

Natural and cultural heritage

Chair of the event’s organising committee, Dr. Catherine Farrell said: “Irish peatlands form a significant portion of the Irish landscape and are integral to both our natural and our cultural heritage.

“Peatlands, in Ireland and globally, present a range of services and benefits for society, not least among these being carbon storage.

“It is estimated that they contain 30% of the global terrestrial carbon while occupying a mere 3% of the planet’s land area,” she added.

“It is incumbent on us in the face of the combined and inter-related threats of global warming and biodiversity loss, to put our best foot forward in terms of informing peatlands policy, both at home and abroad.”

Participants in Peatlands Gathering

The first Peatlands Gathering is looking for the following groups to participate:

  • Community groups;
  • Farmers;
  • Land managers;
  • Forestry groups;
  • Peat producers;
  • Academics;
  • Public representatives;
  • Policy makers; and
  • The general public.

The intention is to create an open forum to promote dialogue about peatlands and their future.