Restoring raised bogs in Ireland

The Living Bog project is the largest ever EU LIFE-funded raised bog restoration project in Ireland. Implementing hydrological restoration measures on 12 of Ireland’s unique raised bog SACs, restoration on these Natura 2000 sites will improve over 2,600 hectares of threatened raised bog habitat – the equivalent of over 20,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The project provides a wide range of benefits including carbon sequestration, biodiversity enhancement, improvements to water quality and regulation of flood flows.

Key details

Project name
The Living Bog Project

Client
Living Bog Project / Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Location
Republic of Ireland

Services provided

  • Hydrological expertise 

Challenge

It is estimated there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bog in Ireland; however, Ireland is estimated to hold over 50% of the remaining Atlantic raised bog in Europe.

The main pressures to raised bogs are drainage, peat extraction and reclamation for agriculture, with the ongoing loss of raised bog habitat led to the European Commission commencing infringement proceedings against Ireland.

To reverse losses and tackle high rates of greenhouse gas emissions from damaged peatlands, Ireland has commenced a programme of peatland restoration.  Living Bog Project, one of the pilot programmes, aimed to undertake restoration as well as raise awareness of the importance of conserving these unique peatland habits.

Our client faced a difficult task of engaging positively with landowners and communicating the benefits of peatland restoration, particularly to those that previously used peatlands as a source of domestic fuel. Unlike several previous projects in Ireland, this project involved the implementation of restoration measures across the entire site on both public and private lands.

Therefore, ensuring that restoration measures were designed appropriately and that potential impacts on adjacent landowners were adequately considered were of key importance.

 

Solution

Our team were involved in the project from concept through to implementation, providing technical input to the bid to the EU Commission, designing the initial restoration plans and providing hydrological support to the project team.

We supported the design of a suitable hydrological monitoring network, both to inform refinement of restoration measures and to measure levels of success. RPS provided support to the team in meeting with and engaging with landowners that had concerns regarding the proposed restoration measures and carried out hydrological analysis to assess the impact of restoration on flood risk on adjacent landowners.

We developed innovative and cost-effective solutions to enable hydrological monitoring to be carried out to meet project requirements while minimising capital expenditure. Hydrological monitoring was targeted based on hydrological models developed by the RPS team ensuring an effective and efficient monitoring programme was established to meet project requirements.

Our team have also implemented advanced data analytics to assist with the processing and analysis of results from the project, significantly reducing time required to complete analysis for project reporting.

Project statistics

12
sites
7
counties
187km2
of drains
240
groundwater monitoring points

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