Improving the way peatlands are managed in Ireland will help store carbon, reduce CO2 emissions, improve water quality and biodiversity, states a new report by An Fóram Uisce - The Water Forum.

Only 18% of all peatlands are in a ‘near natural’ or ‘healthy’ state and, consequently, 82% of peatlands are considered ‘degraded’ the report highlights.

The authors suggest that better management through rewetting and restoration of peatlands can reverse these trends and restore the natural peatland functions.

“Rewetting is not flooding. Blocking drains can restore the water balance within the peatland so that plants can grow and re-establish to provide and improve animal habitats in the bog and downstream rivers.”

Future generations

Drainage of peatlands and removal of surface vegetation releases nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen.

Ammonia and dissolved carbon gives the water a dark colour and sediment into rivers and lakes and this reduces water quality and is a particular issue in drinking water source areas.

The report has said that industrial cutaway bogs will need longer-term measures and more intensive restoration programmes to recover.

Chair of An Fóram Uisce Dr Tom Collins said: “Generations of Irish children have written loving essays entitled A Day in The Bog.

“Now we are trying to ensure that future generations of our children can write the same essay with the same innocent trust that some things never change.”

An Fóram Uisce is hosting a webinar to present and debate these research findings.

Taking place online on 21 May, registration is free and the webinar programme is available here.