26.10.11 - Irish Peatlands Important for Climate Change and Biodiversity
Research carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency has highlighted the increasingly significant role of Irish Peatlands in key areas such as climate change and biodiversity.
The research finds that there is a need for increased protection of this valuable resource and provides recommendations for developing a national peatland strategy.
Laura Burke, EPA Director of Research said, “The study estimates that Irish peatlands likely contain more than 75 per cent of the soil organic carbon in Ireland. An intact or undamaged peatland can actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon within the peat body. This important function is reversed (i.e. there is a net release of carbon) when the peatland is damaged. Central to this process is the requirement to keep these peatlands wet.”
Laura also stated that, “Peatlands also provide habitats for unique and specialist flora and fauna.”
Dr. Florence Renou-Wilson, UCD biologist and lead researcher on the project, said, “In addition to recognising that peatlands form our oldest natural heritage and some of our most unique landscapes, such as Slieve Bloom, Connemara and the Ox Mountains, we now know that they are also essential to natures carbon balance.”
The recommendations of the report are that natural peatland sites designated for preservation need to be managed with a view to increasing the total area of near-intact peatland. Protection of these sites is also imperative for sustaining their carbon storage and sequestration capacity. For other peatlands, management is needed to control carbon loss and prevent disturbance.
For more information on the Bogland: Sustainable Management of Peatlands in Ireland report, please visit www.epa.ie.