A key element of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, approved by the Government and published by my Department in December 2017, is to maintain active raised bog habitat and restore degraded raised bog habitat to active raised bog habitat.
The national restoration programme for Ireland’s raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas is contained within this Plan. It was intended to restore all designated raised bogs within 3 cycles, with the first cycle operating for the duration of the Management Plan.
This programme can now be accelerated due to the announcement in Budget 2020 of €5m for peatlands restoration. This funding will allow for restoration measures to be undertaken on approximately 1,800 hectares in 2020 on up to 9 raised bog designated sites across 7 counties and the installation of an Eddy Covariance Flux tower on a bog to measure surface to atmospheric fluxes (CO2, Methane, turbulent energy, moisture etc.). A further 23 raised bog designated sites have been identified for restoration works over the next number of years under the programme.
A working group, including representatives from my Department, has been established by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to formulate how accounting for managed wetlands can be achieved in the context of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in compliance with the relevant EU legislation. Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), as reported in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency, include activities associated with afforestation and forestry harvesting, grassland and cropland management under agricultural use, managed and unmanaged wetlands, and other land-use categories. While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets.
I understand that there are no costs associated with availing of the land use, land-use change and forestry flexibility. The costs arise in the implementation of programmes, be it afforestation, wetland restoration etc.