PRESS RELEASE: Moves to open up protected peatlands must be reversed

Sep 24

PRESS RELEASE: Moves to open up protected peatlands must be reversed


24th September 2019


The Irish Wildlife Trust is calling on the government to reverse proposals to open up protected peatland conservation areas for turf-cutting which are proposed in the Wildlife Bill. The bill is being discussed in the Seanad this week. This is a retrograde step and is exactly the wrong direction in which we should be headed.


The proposal, which has been in the Oireachtas since 2016, will open up bogland Natural Heritage Areas by removing legal protections to allow turf-cutting. The IWT believes that this is yet another backward step for our wildlife and biodiversity, while simultaneously providing for more burning of fossil fuels at a time when peat should be kept in the ground. We are particularly disappointed in an amendment from Fianna Fail which would expand the number of protected sites which could be ‘de-designated. This approach is contrary to their previous statements in favour of taking serious action in favour of greater biodiversity protection.


IWT Campaigns Officer Pádraic Fogarty says “It is totally insane to think that at a time of our climate and biodiversity emergency that we should be talking about rolling back the few protections we have in place for our precious bogs. Peatlands are our most important carbon sinks and are essential ecosystems for wildlife; instead of trying to destroy them we should be putting all our efforts into repairing and restoring them.”


The move to pass the changes to the Wildlife Act come as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a new report on the value of ‘nature based solutions’ to the climate crisis [i]. They have highlighted how restoring natural ecosystems can provide up to 30% of the mitigation required by 2030 to stay within 2 degrees of warming. Indeed, if we are to keep warming to within 1.5 degrees (a stated aim of the Paris Climate Accord), then nature will be essential for drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. ‘Nature-based solutions’ are sometimes referred to as ‘no regrets’ solutions as restoring nature provides a range of other benefits (water regulation and purification, soil regeneration, amenity etc), as well as being a worthy goal in its own right. In Ireland such measures would include creating new native woodlands, restoring and rewilding peatlands and wetlands, and creating marine reserves.


CONTACT:  Padraic Fogarty  – IWT’s Campaigns Officer –