The Raised Bog Conservation Study involves the provision of specialist scientific and technical information and analysis to inform the development of national and site-specific conservation and restoration approaches for Ireland’s raised bogs, focussing particularly on those chosen for designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). This will assist Ireland in meeting its international and national legal obligations and address the concerns of stakeholders regarding the implications of conservation and restoration measures.

The study has the following objectives, which are to be completed by November 2013:

  • To develop draft national conservation objectives for active and degraded raised bog habitats;
  • To work with the Department and the Peatlands Council to develop a National Raised Bog SAC  Management Plan;
  • To prepare a Natura Impact Statement and Environmental Report to enable Appropriate Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Raised Bog SAC Manangement Plan;
  • To identify and assess possible compensatory habitat for areas of active raised bog lost since the SACs were nominated for designation;
  • To develop, with the Department and the Peatlands Council, an approach to the management of raised bog NHAs consistent with national conservation objectives.

In parallel with the above, but with some elements extending to study completion, the study will:

  • Advise on the current status and restoration potential of each of  the 53 raised bog SACs;
  • Develop detailed site-specific conservation objectives for the raised bog SACs and selected compensatory sites;
  • Prepare draft hydrological / restoration plans for the SACs to ensure that the national and site specific objectives are technically feasible and sustainable;
  • Identify priorities for undertaking works and further investigations to facilitate the implementation of the subsequent restoration programme;
  • Produce guidance documents for all main technical elements of the restoration works;
  • Participate in appropriate assessment of the site plans.

The draft hydrological / restoration plans for the SACs will seek to minimise inconvenience to adjacent landowners while optimising the achievement of conservation objectives and the provision of ecosystem services, e.g. carbon capture and storage, flood attenuation etc.  The draft plans will form the basis for ongoing detailed discussions with the stakeholders about the site-specific measures needed to achieve the conservation objectives for the sites. The Department will oversee the delivery of the study objectives.