Minister Canney marks beginning of ‘new harvest’ for Bord na Móna

The Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, Sean Canney, visited Derraghan Woods, Co. Longford, yesterday, Thursday, February 27, to ‘tap’ birch trees and mark the beginning of “a new departure” for Bord na Móna.

In the company of Bord na Móna CEO, Tom Donnellan, Minister Canney started what may become a new spring tradition on Ireland’s peatlands – harvesting birchwater.

According to a statement from Bord na Móna, birchwater is a popular drink across Finland and the Baltic States and provides a range of health benefits.

Now, as part of Bord na Móna’s ‘Brown to Green’ transformation, the ancient practice is starting to catch on again in Ireland.

For just three weeks, as winter gives way to spring, water, minerals and sugars are pushed up from the roots of the birch, and the trunks are tapped releasing the valuable liquid.

The birchwater is collected using a method similar to harvesting maple syrup in North America. Bord na Móna is investigating the potential for birchwater harvesting as part of its strategy to expand its diverse range of low-carbon business operations.

Commenting on the idea, Tom Donnellan said: “I am delighted that Minister Canney is here to mark the start of this new type of harvest for Bord na Móna.

Where we once milled peat, we are now harvesting a pure, new, entirely natural and organic health product.

“The birchwater project is still in its development phase but is progressing well with excellent harvest yields from these peatlands.

“This initiative has been in development since the end of 2018 and employs some people who previously worked in Bord na Móna’s peat harvesting business. We are looking forward to the next phase of its growth as it develops outlets for this unique product primarily in the food and drinks industries,” Donnellan concluded.

The birchwater project is part of the accelerated €1.6 billion development pipeline of renewable energy, resource recovery and new businesses outlined in the company’s Brown to Green Strategy.