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Used bog sites to be transformed into native woodlands

The initiative is part of the Climate Action Plan which aims to plant 22 million trees per year for the next 20 years.

The Collite Nature and Bord na Móna collaboration will see approximately 600,000 native trees being established across 1,500 hectares of Bord na Móna land that is no longer used for peat production, over the next three years.

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8 October 2019 | 0

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Michael Creed announced that Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna are collaborating on a new project which will see bogs no longer used for peat production, transformed into rich native woodlands.

The Climate Action Plan 2019 commits to planting 22 million trees every year for the next 20 years.

This initiative will see approximately 600,000 native trees being established across 1,500 hectares of Bord na Móna land that is no longer used for peat production, over the next three years. The focus will be on growing a mix of native Irish trees such as Downy Birch, Scots Pine, Alder and other Broadleaves tress such as Hazel and Holly.

“This joint project will see bogs no longer used for peat production, transformed into rich, native woodlands. Our land is one of our most powerful tools in responding to the climate challenge. This project is a great example of how we can better use our resources to step up our response, to what is the most crucial issue of this generation.

“Not only are woodlands crucial to absorb carbon emissions, but they are essential for preserving Ireland’s biodiversity. The focus of this project is on native Irish trees and animal species.”, said Minister Bruton.

Minister Creed said: “I very much welcome this collaboration between Coillte and Bord na Móna to engage in this large scale afforestation project. It will bring a range of environmental benefits through the use of native species and will provide a huge contribution to meeting the afforestation targets under the government’s Climate Action Plan.

“Projects of this scale and ambition will be the drivers to achieving the goals of this Plan and I would encourage all public bodies to think about how they might engage in tree-planting. I would encourage them to engage with my Department where they will find a full range of supports.”

Minister of State Andrew Doyle said: “This project provides an excellent opportunity to increase the area of Ireland’s broadleaved woodland.  These areas once established will provide an excellent resource for existing and future generations to enjoy as these woods develop into the future. Bog woodland habitats associated with existing wetlands and open space will provide a refuge for a wide range of flora and fauna increasing biodiversity in these landscapes.”

The Bord na Móna lands identified for the project are in counties Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, and Tipperary. Teams from Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna will work together to provide the management, forestry, nursery, and technical expertise to establish and maintain the woodlands.

Bernie Gray, chair of Coillte, said: “Our decision to establish Coillte Nature is a very significant and timely initiative which is aligned with the government’s focus on climate action. Coillte is ideally positioned to lead the creation of new woodlands for carbon sequestration and to develop recreational forestry for the enjoyment and wellbeing of the public.

“Coillte Nature will have a strong focus on carbon sequestration, species diversification, biodiversity, and the development of forestry recreation activities. We are delighted to announce this exciting collaboration with Bord na Móna.”

Tom Donnellan, chief executive of Bord na Móna, said: “Bord na Móna is de-carbonising its business and changing how we manage bogs across Ireland. As we step back from our traditional operations, our new business approach involves different, innovative activities across our estate and in many cases that involves a range of new partnerships.

“This very welcome joint-initiative with Coillte aligns with our new approach to business, estate management and our plans to rehabilitate a total area of 35,000 hectares of peatlands by 2025. By this time we plan to have a new Bord na Móna estate that provides a new extensive rich habitat for native plants and animals, and that also uses our resources in a sustainable way to support a thriving green economy”.

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