Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Questions (483)

Thomas Pringle


483. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the dedicated resources and expertise in relation to paludiculture available within his Department or State agencies under his remit; his plans to implement the recommendation regarding paludiculture research in chapter 8 of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action report; his views on the potential for paludiculture in the context of the new €5 million fund for wetlands restoration and rehabilitation as announced by Minister Bruton on 16 October 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43526/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department recognises wetlands and peat soils as an important carbon pool in the Irish landscape. Reducing emissions by water table manipulation has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions from these soils and is a means to positively contribute to our climate change mitigation ambitions. This is an important part of Agriculture's contribution to the emission reductions and is set out in the All of Government Climate Action Plan, released in June 2019, as highlighted in the targets set for the Agriculture, Forestry and Land-use sector.

The Climate Action Plan targets at least 40,000 hectares of carbon rich soils under agricultural management for reduced intensity management as part of our commitment. Future research into the potential of rewetted peatlands to retain and sequester carbon while remaining in productive use will be led by Teagasc with input from Bord na Mona.

Bord na Móna has already rehabilitated 15,000 hectares of peatland and is developing new plans that will involve the enhanced rehabilitation of a greater area of peatland by 2025. Bord na Mona has recently announced a €1.6 billion investment plan which includes an accelerated peatland rehabilitation programme and, while these activities will take place on non-agricultural soils, my Department will be eager to learn from the knowledge gained by Bord na Mona`s efforts in this area.

The recently announced €5 million fund for bog restoration and rehabilitation, through Budget 2020, is a matter for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and will support the NPWS to restore 1,800 hectares of bog in 7 counties, resulting in 28 million tonnes of carbon stored over the next 5 years.