DONEGAL’S peat bogs are Ireland’s rainforests, say environmentalists who want turf cutting banned
Green Party Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht spokesperson Rian Coulter insisted: “Our raised bogs have developed over the last 10,000 years and they contain a unique ecosystem, which once lost will never be recovered. We respect the social heritage that has arisen from the generations that have cut turf from the bogs, but we also respect the science which explicitly states that these special areas will not withstand the level of extraction that is happening today. These are the equivalent of our rain forests. They hold a richness of life that needs to be protected from short term ‘cut and burn’ thinking.
“The sad thing about the impasse that has developed, is that there is an alternative approach that could protect both the local social and environmental heritage. If rather than compensating turf cutters for stopping their activity, we developed a capital fund which would pay for a programme of insulating local houses and developing new coppiced fuel supplies, a whole new culture of energy harvesting could develop which is truly sustainable.
“Following the vote in the Dail last week it would seem that the Government has climbed down on the issue. They must be confident that they will be able to get the Commission to bend the environmental rules to get us out of the immediate conflict. However, we have to ask whether that is the best use of our political capital in Europe at this time. Surely we should be using every ounce of that political capital to get a write down on our debt rather than insisting that we maintain the right to destroy our own unique wildlife areas.” concluded Rian Coulter.