World Wetland Day
Christmas is over, New Year’s Eve forgotten (along with most of our resolutions). So what’s next? It’s time for World Wetland Day!!!
There are many kinds of wetlands, Fens, Mires, Swamps and most importantly within an Irish context we of course have our bogs. Now before I get into all the details of how amazing and important these wetlands are (especially in Ireland) I want to bring you on a tour through Europe.
North Europe and the Baltic regions raised bogs
Scotland’s blanket bogs and mires
Central Europe’s river valley wetlands
Northern Scandinavia’s string-flark mires
So now that you are as in love with Wetlands as I am its time to get down to the details.
What are we really dealing with here?
Bogs are a resource in so many ways, they assist in flood reduction and management, they are of sites of remarkable historic significance (one only has to think of Seamus Heaney and The Tollund Man “She tightened her torc on him, And opened her fen, Those dark juices working, Him to a saint’s kept body”), in Ireland almost 70% of us receive our drinking water from bogs, they are contain a phenomenal and unique array of insects, rare birds and incredibly plants often found nowhere else. On top of this and arguably most importantly we are looking at the biggest carbon store on the planet, “About 75% of the EU’s land-related emissions from cropping and grazing results from peatland drainage, although this area covers only 2% of agriculture and grazing land” (De La Haye, A., Devereux, C. , van Herk, S. (2021) Peatlands Across Europe: Innovation and Inspiration, Barcelona, Bax & Company).
What are we doing with them?
According to the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council 47% of Irish Peatlands have been degraded from turf cutting. There are similar high numbers throughout Europe for various reasons including drainage, grazing and agriculture, fuel (turf cutting) and forestry. This damage cannot be overstated, “Drained and damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 5.6% of global human-caused CO2 emissions annually, more than aviation and shipping combined”, (2021) Peatlands Across Europe: Innovation and Inspiration, Barcelona, Bax & Company).
So what is there to celebrate?
We can and will turn this around! Throughout Europe there is a push towards peatland restoration with many examples of the power and ability we have to save them. CANAPE, Carbon Connects, Desire, Life Peat Restoration and Care-Peat are just a few of these projects. These projects follow various different methods of restoring peatlands such as rewetting strategies which involves drain blocking allowing the bog to return to its wet stage meaning the bog can once again start to grow leading to carbon sequestration. The removal of invasive species of plants and the removal plants not suited to wetlands is also practiced in many projects and can easily be carried out by anyone not involved in these projects. The third example I give tentatively, this is carbon crediting schemes. In Ireland we do not currently have any carbon credit schemes which involves companies buying carbon that will be sequestered by the peatland which in theory mitigates that companies emissions greatly. This would incentives the protection and restoration of wetlands (A short-term solution to a long-term problem in my humble opinion, but it’s a start).
So lets raise a glass of water to our bogs, because that’s likely where it came from!
Check out these amazing Irish and European projects for more info –
Peatlands across Europe: Innovation & Inspiration
Care-Peat – Restoring the carbon storage capacity of peatlands
World Wetlands Day – 2 February 2022
Climate Change Mitigation by means of Rewetting Peatlands
Peatlands in spotlight at COP26
Development of Sustainable (adaptive) peatland management by Restoration and paludiculture for nutrient retention and other ecosystem services in the Neman river catchment
Welcome to the CANAPE project. Creating a New Approach to Peatland Ecosystems
What a bog and labyrinth the human essence is… We are all overbrained and overemotioned.Barry Hannah
Feature image: Tonelagee mountain in the Glendasan valley, Wicklow Mountains
photo © Joe King 2011, https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/286795