On World Wetlands Day today (Tuesday, February 2), Green Party Ministers Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett have welcomed the announcement of the ‘Peatlands and People’ initiative.

The new project, which will “contribute to the long term implementation of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan” and promote and protect Ireland’s biodiversity, has been awarded €10 million under the EU LIFE fund.

Additional support of €2.5 million and other resources is being provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Department of Climate and Communications.

This is in addition to the €108 million allocated for a large-scale peatlands restoration project from the Climate Action Fund in 2020.

‘Unique and precious habitats’

According to the ministers, in Ireland, wetlands and peat bogs “will play a crucial role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; peatlands around the globe store vast amounts of carbon – twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests”.

Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan said that the restoration and rehabilitation of Ireland’s peatlands is a “critically important aspect of our response to the climate and biodiversity emergency”.

When healthy, these unique and precious habitats are home to some of our most threatened species and are among our best lines of defence against climate change: sequestering and storing carbon; reducing the impact of floods; and filtering water.

He added that there is “much more to come” when it comes to work undertaken in restoring peatlands.

‘Just Transition Accelerator’ programme

As part of the Peatlands and People project, a ‘Just Transition Accelerator’ programme is being established that will focus on low carbon and circular economies to support the midlands region economically.

A Peatlands Knowledge Centre of Excellence will also be established along with an “immersive People’s Discovery Attraction” to introduce the importance of climate action and peatlands to citizens.

Welcoming these initiatives in the midlands region, Minister of State Pippa Hackett said the establishment of a centre of excellence to carry out and examine peatlands restoration will be “a marvellous addition to this region”.

World Peatlands Day

February 2 each year is World Wetlands Day, which aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.