Coillte’s Bog Restoration Efforts: 3,195ha of Habitat Revived in 14 Years!

Coillte Restores Over 3,000 Hectares of Blanket Bog Habitats Across Ireland's Western Seaboard

Between 2002 and 2015, Ireland’s semi-state forestry company, Coillte, embarked on an ambitious endeavor to restore and rewet 3,195 hectares of ecologically valuable blanket bog and raised bog habitats on its lands. The restoration efforts focused on blanket bog habitats spanning 1,988 hectares across twenty different locations, primarily situated along the scenic Western seaboard counties of Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, and Offaly. Additionally, two distinct raised bog restoration projects successfully revitalized 1,207 hectares of high conservation value raised bog habitat in various counties, including Laois, Meath, Westmeath, Cavan, Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway, and Tipperary. These conservation projects were accomplished in collaboration with the European Commission’s LIFE Nature Unit.

The Life Programme, funded by the European Commission, plays a pivotal role in supporting environment, nature conservation, and climate action projects across the European Union. Notably, Coillte has ceased planting trees on deep peat soils in Ireland due to a heightened awareness of the carbon emission risks associated with such practices. The forestry company identified around 30,000 hectares of forests within its 440,000-hectare estate that are situated on deep peat soils, posing a significant carbon emission risk that necessitates redesigning. Coillte’s recent peatland restoration initiative, known as the Wild Western Peatlands Project, was designed to restore peatland forests, with a pilot site located at the Derryclare forest in County Galway. However, the project faced a setback when Galway County Council recently refused planning permission for the endeavor.

The proposed 10-year plan aimed to restore and rehabilitate 281 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and heathland, currently planted with lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce, and convert 62 hectares of forestry into native woodland. Despite the planning permission refusal, Coillte reiterated its unwavering commitment to redesign 30,000 hectares of peatland forests by 2050 for the dual benefits of climate and ecology. The forestry company affirmed its dedication to engaging with key stakeholders, including Galway County Council, to explore potential options for realizing its ambitious goals. Coillte’s forestry estate boasts a diverse range of soil types and habitats, with 20% currently managed primarily for nature conservation. The organization aims to increase this to 30% by the end of 2025.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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