Ulster Wildlife worked with stakeholders to identify degraded areas of blanket bog within Cuilcagh Mountain SAC in 2019 as part of the CANN project. The CANN project is a cross-border environment project which aims to improve the condition of protected habitats and to support priority species found within Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Scotland, allowing the region to meet key EU biodiversity targets and ensuring the future of these internationally important habitats and species.
The CANN project is supported by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match funding has been provided by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland, by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, and by Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland.
After consultation and field site visits it was agreed that the focus of the project would be on an approximately 150ha area in the townland of Gortmaconnell that held over 4km of drainage ditches which were installed approximately 30 years ago.
Development of a restoration plan
LiDAR data for the site was acquired using UAV technology which was then analysed by hydrologists in RPS to develop a restoration plan. RPS developed detailed maps outlining the topography of the site, flowpaths, and the most heavily impacted areas. In total they recommended the installation of over 300 dams across the site in order to hold water back and raise the water table.
Ulster Wildlife worked closely with local landowners and in the end trained them in the methods required to deliver the works themselves. Over Autumn/Winter 2020 the local farmers installed over 300 peat dams along the drainage ditches.
Environmental impact of bog restoration
Not only will these dams improve the hydrology of the site which will benefit the important peatland flora, but they will also improve water quality, reduce flooding, improve carbon sequestration and provide habitats for invertebrates. These skills are also now embedded within the local community providing a legacy for potential future peatland restoration work.
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 Report, published 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.