The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is calling for greater law enforcement after new data, released after appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner, revealed that illegal turf-cutting remains a significant problem in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated for raised bogs.
The records from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage show that 330 turf plots were cut in 2022, an increase from 290 in 2021. Despite a ban on turf-cutting in SACs coming into force in 2011, last year saw this continued destruction in 15 such areas. Mining of peat accelerated in some bogs compared to 2021 such as Barroughter in Galway, Corliskea/Trien/Cloonfelliv Bog in Galway/Roscommon and Mouds Bog in Kildare.
In 2022 the European Commission announced that it was renewing an infringement action against Ireland for failure to protect peatland SACs, however the Commission itself has been slow to act in this area. Meanwhile irreparable damage continues to occur on the last of our ‘protected’ raised bogs.
The IWT is calling on Minister of State Malcolm Noonan, to stop being an onlooker in this destruction and to enforce the law. If people were walking out of the National Museum with priceless exhibits we’d expect them to be stopped, yet there is a general sense of impunity when it comes to destruction of our natural heritage because the State is refusing to intervene.
Raised bogs are globally unique habitats that are endangered with extinction. When fully functioning they are powerhouses of carbon storage and sequestration, water purification and regulation and are habitats to specially adapted species. However, our bogs are in dire condition and while some important restoration work is underway, not far from these sites the exact opposite is happening under the watchful eye of the State.
Nearly four years since the Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, it is time we saw some action before these bogs cease to be of conservation value.
CONTACT: Padraic Fogarty IWT Campaigns Officer firstname.lastname@example.org