Over 130,000ha of blanket bog is to be surveyed over the next three years as part of the Wild Atlantic Nature (WAN) project.
Tender documents show that the Department of Housing is looking for a contractor to complete habitat surveys and condition assessments on the blanket bogs and their associated habitats. The value of the contract is €650,000.
The successful contractor will classify habitats and record quadrats at predefined locations across these sites.
A total of 11 sites are to be surveyed over the course of the three years (2023-2025) in counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.
In 2023, habitat and condition assessment surveys will occur in five blanket bog special areas of conservation (SAC) in Galway, Mayo and Donegal. These are Cloghernagore Bog and Glenveagh National Park SAC, Slieve Tooey/Tormore Island/Loughros Beg Bay SAC; Glenamoy Bog Complex SAC; Owenduff-Nephin Complex SAC; and The Twelve Bens/Garraun Complex SAC.
The target area for 2023 is to survey a maximum of five of the 11 project sites within the WAN target area. This accounts for around 63,000ha of blanket bog and associated habitats.
The remaining project sites, roughly 73,000ha, will be surveyed over 2024 and 2025.
The habitat surveys will generally be run over the five-month period from May to September, with completion of summary reports and outputs by year end.
From provisional work completed in 2022, the estimated rate of coverage is approximately 150ha per day per surveyor.
WAN project manager Derek McLoughlin told the Irish Farmers Journal that the surveys will assess the current status of the bogs, but also their restoration potential.
The survey teams will be working with the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) co-operation projects in the area.
“The survey will highlight the areas that need restoration and build resources in the community,” he said.
Citing the ongoing work in Delphi, Co Mayo, where farmers are leading a project to control rhododendron, he said that community-led approaches such as this are likely to be a benefit of the surveys.
“There is opportunity at local level to take control and to be experts in the management of this land,” he said.