Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Rewetting of Peatland and its Impact on Farmers: Discussion (Resumed)
Ms Suzanne Nally:
The Deputy made an interesting point on community-led restoration. The national raised bogs special areas of conservation management plan sets out that eventually that is the way we want to go with raised bog restoration. We have seen some excellent results such as in Abbeyleix in County Laois with community-based restoration. We would support community groups in undertaking restoration measures under the peatlands community engagement scheme this year, to which the Minister awarded grants of more than €230,000 to 25 projects. One of those projects involved a restoration measures, which was a community-led restoration initiative. We definitively would like to see more of that.
The wild Atlantic nature LIFE project is funded by the EU with a budget of more than €20 million and will run for a period of nine years The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department is a co-ordinating beneficiary. It involves blanket bog sites of more than 24 special areas of conservation in northern and western regions in Donegal, Sligo, Galway and Mayo. The aim of the project is to reactivate more than 5,000 ha of blanket bog and to raise awareness nationally about blanket bog conservation and the Natura 2000 network. It aims to work with farmers and local communities across a wide range of services provided from the blanket bogs. The project aims to adopt a results based approach building on successes of other locally adapted programmes such as pearl mussel European innovation partnership, EIP, project, rewarding landowners for the quality of the habitat produced. Landowners can undertake voluntary measures such as drain blocking with the aim of improving habitat quality. A pilot results based project will be launched in June this year and extended to other special areas of conservation outside the Owenduff-Nephin complex next year.