A €21 million project to restore vast areas of blanket bog throughout the northwest has been unveiled.
Farmers and communities are set to play a leading role in their conservation.
Globally, Ireland contains 8 per cent of the world’s blanket bog, but much of it is in poor condition and requires careful management to bring it back to favourable condition.
The LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature (WAN) project was launched in Ballycroy National Park, Mayo, yesterday by Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett.
It aims to deliver environmental and social benefits through the conservation and restoration of blanket bog habitat covering 35 sites – totalling 250,000 hectares – along the western seaboard from to north Donegal south Galway.
The project is coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Mr Noonan said he could think of no better way to kick off National Biodiversity Week.
The innovative project puts people, and the ecological health of the landscapes they live and work in, at the heart of its efforts, he said.
“I believe collaborative approaches like this one are the best ways to deliver real impact for nature.”
He added: “It’s a great example of the successes already underway. The protection of our blanket bog habitats is vitally important as we work to address our biodiversity and climate crises.”
In the pilot project, more than 150 Mayo farmers took part initially and received total payments in excess of €500,000, while more than 800 farmers are expected to benefit from the scheme this year.
Average farmer payment was €3,200; ranging from €800 to more than €10,000.
Read the full Irish Times report here.