Mandatory accounting of managed wetlands is to commence from 2026 and, therefore, it is important to have robust systems in place before then. The National Mitigation Plan (July 2017) contains an action to “progress the cross-Departmental working group to analyse the feasibility of including wetland draining and rewetting in the national inventory”. In the European Commission proposal, managed wetlands are defined as “land use reported as wetland, remaining wetland and settlement, other land converted to wetland, and wetland converted to settlement and other land”. Managed wetlands include peatland drained and used for peat extraction, and peatlands use for settlement and other land, including infrastructures. Managed wetlands are already reported annually under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) process. Any peat/carbon-rich soil under agricultural use is covered by grassland and cropland accounting, so this is already elected from 2013. The LULUCF (land use, land-use change and forestry) sub-category is determined by land use in the reference year and not the soil type alone. Therefore, ‘managed wetland’ refers to non-agricultural management of bogs such as turf and peat extraction for energy or horticultural use.
An inter-departmental working group on wetlands has been established, comprising of officials from the Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), and Forestry, Agriculture and the Marine (DFAM), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The first meeting of the group was held on 13 March 2018 and discussed in detail a number of issues relating to the provision of data and greenhouse gas inventories so that managed wetlands may be considered as a potential climate mitigation measure going forward, and to satisfy the future requirement regarding mandatory reporting of managed wetlands from 2026 under UN accounting rules. A briefing paper was prepared by my Department to guide the initial focus of the group. The state-of-play regarding current wetlands mapping and data provision was initially discussed by the relevant experts, and current gaps have been outlined. A number of national and international experts were identified for future consultation, as were current overlapping national policies and measures. It was also noted that Teagasc will provide attendance at future Wetlands Working Groups, and consideration is also to be given to the inclusion of other potential stakeholders. The next meeting of the working group is planned for September.