Raised bog

Nature 2030 Case Studies – Raised bog restoration

Drain blocking project

Most of the remaining raised bogs in Northern Ireland, even those in protected sites, are losing water through drains. Blocking those drains allows the bog to re-wet, lock up carbon and provide better habitat for a range of species.

Ulster Wildlife is blocking drains at 10 Special Areas of Conservation with the aim of keeping the bogs saturated (i.e. a water table within 10cm of the surface for 90% of the year ensuring Sphagnum mosses can continue to grow). If peat-forming mosses are present the bog will then actively form peat and keep carbon locked in. We have recorded peat depths of up to 10m at some of these bogs so can presume they offer significant carbon storage.

Raised bog restoration. Before and after drain blocking in bog.
Before and after drain blocking (Photograph from Simon Gray, Ulster Wildlife)

Identifying potential for bog restoration

The potential for restoration has been determined by analysis of LiDAR data and slope. Hydrological engineers at RPS have pinpointed exactly where each of thousands of dams should go to maximise the chances of peat formation occurring.

Benefits of re-wetting

Bogs that are wetter are less likely to be invaded by native species such as birch and non-natives such as rhododendron, and more likely to continue to support threatened species such as bog rosemary and the dark tussock moth. They are also less likely to burn, are more resistant to atmospheric pollution and more resilient to a changing climate.

The physical process of installing dams often creates more open water on the bog surface helping invertebrates such as craneflies, an important food source for wading birds, and dragonflies.

Dark tussock caterpillar in a bog habitat
Dark tussock caterpillar (Photograph from Trish Fox, Ulster Wildlife)

Learn more about what Northern Ireland is doing to become "Nature Positive" and combat biodiversity decline

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is one of 5 UK statutory nature agencies to produce a joint Nature Positive 2030 Reportpublished on 22nd September 2021.

The Nature Positive 2030 Report sets out how the UK can meet its commitments in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and ensure that nature’s recovery plays a critical role in our path to Net Zero.

Multi-award winning author and naturalist from Northern Ireland, Dara McAnulty explains why we need to act now to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change.

Other Nature 2030 Case Studies

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