A new investment of €15m has been announced to protect blanket bogs, which will see the Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE project expanded to the western seaboard.

The project will receive €10m from the Government’s Shared Island Fund and an additional €5m in co-funding through the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Scotland’s NatureScot.

This expanded ambition will also support the ACRES co-operation project results-based agri-environment payment scheme, similar to that piloted in Wild Atlantic Nature, which will be rolled out to over 20,000 farmers by the Department of Agriculture from 2023.


The Wild Atlantic Nature project has been working with communities, landowners, individual farming families and groups in the northwest to conserve and improve the quality of blanket bogs and associated habitats.

“A key strength of the project has been the success of their results-based agri-environment payment scheme through which, in 2022 alone, over 800 farmers have benefited from funding directly linked to the quality of the habitat on their farms, and the ecosystem services they provide including clean water, carbon storage and biodiversity,” a Department of Heritage spokesperson said.

The funding will be used to build capacity at local and national levels through upskilling, training and education programmes and restoration work.

Sites in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be selected to deliver practical peatland restoration, build capacity for long-term peatland management, undertake research and monitoring, exchange knowledge, and address socio-cultural issues across a range of restoration scenarios.


These include the restoration of private and public lands, demonstration of restoration of erosion impacts, reactivation of drained peatlands, forest to bog restoration, control of alien invasives, addressing grazing pressures, improving community engagement and increasing education and awareness.

The owners and users of the project sites will be at the centre of any planned activities and participation will be voluntary, the Department said.

Biodiversity conference

Speaking after his visit to the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), where he is represented Ireland, minister with responsibility for heritage Malcolm Noonan said: “This increased funding recognises the achievements of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature in a short space of time. The success of this project to date has been based on co-operation with local communities, particularly farmers, to take simple actions to improve habitats on farmland.

“This new funding will allow us to overall develop capacity, share expertise and to intensify our efforts in peatland recovery on a collaborative cross-border basis as part of the Government’s Shared Island initiative.

"A lack of technical and organisational capacity in peatland restoration is a barrier to preventing the ongoing decline of our peatlands - this funding will help to bridge that gap, working with our partners in Northern Ireland and Scotland,” he said.

The minister has just returned from COP15 where he said the link between biodiversity and climate change is being discussed by many.

Lighthouse sites

Project manager of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature Dr Derek McLoughlin said the funding will be used to set up lighthouse sites to develop multidimensional peatland restoration, in turn delivering social and environmental returns working in partnership with local communities.

“Learnings from this cross-border collaboration will be integrated into the work of NPWS to support its role in peatland restoration and agri-environment schemes aimed at improving biodiversity,” he said.