Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Questions (176)

Thomas Pringle


176. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the initiatives to support paludiculture which will be financed under the climate action plan 2019. [49422/19]

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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.

The Climate Action Plan targets at least 40,000 hectares of carbon rich soils (peatlands) under agricultural management to maintain low management intensity as part of our commitment. There is great potential for paludiculture to take advantage of this and generate sustainable production benefits without diminishing their environmental functions. The assessment of potential options for land use management of rewetted organic soils and research on the potential for productive use of rewetted peatlands, including paludiculture, are key actions within the Climate Action Plan for the better management of peatlands ands soils.

Balancing between reducing our own footprint and commit­ting to carbon removal through sequestration, be it afforestation or management of farmed peatlands, etc., is critical. This is the reason for the €3 million that has been assigned to my Department to carry out pilot projects in respect of carbon removal, which will include at its forefront a pilot measure on farmed peatland management.

Furthermore, Bord na Móna are also focusing on peatlands rehabilitation. The company’s rehabilitation principles have always been to re-wet peat where possible and to work in tandem with nature. Bord na Móna’s cutaway rehabilitation will mean that a heterogeneous mosaic of habitats will develop on the cutaway. 

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 Móna 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 Móna's efforts in this area.