Achieving the annual afforestation target of 8,000 hectares in the government’s Climate Change Plan will be helped by the recently announced Bord na Móna and Coillte collaboration to transform 1,500 hectares of disused peatlands into native woodlands.
Welcoming the project, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said, “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.”
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said, “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.”
Where are these peatlands?
The plantings on Bord na Móna bogs, no longer used for peat production, will be initially targeted over the next three years in Counties Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, and Tipperary.
What kind of trees will be grown?
The focus will be on growing a mix of native Irish trees such as downy birch, Scots pine, alder and other broadleaves (hazel, holly, etc).
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.
How does this fit in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan?
The government’s Climate Action Plan, published by Minister Richard Bruton earlier this year, sets out over 180 actions across all sectors of society needed to put Ireland on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The Climate Action Plan commits to planting 22 million trees every year for the next 20 years.
The Bord na Móna and Coillte collaboration will see approximately 600,000 native trees established.
Rehabilitation and restoration of Bord na Móna peatlands also supports climate action target through reduction of emissions and creation of new carbon sinks and stores.
Where does this initiative fit in the plans of Bord na Móna and Coillte?
Bord na Móna is implementing a peatland rehabilitation and bog restoration programme that will see 35,000 hectares of peatland rehabilitated by 2025.
This supports a huge variety of native plant and animal species, and creation of important new amenity spaces, on some of the 15,000 hectares rehabilitated to date.
Tom Donnellan, Chief Executive of Bord na Móna said: “Bord na Móna is decarbonising its business and changing how we manage bogs across Ireland.
“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 year, 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.”
Bernie Gray, Chair of Coillte, said: “We are delighted to announce this exciting collaboration with Bord na Móna.”
“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 was recently established on a not-for-profit basis to increase the national forest estate, with a strong emphasis on carbon sequestration, habitat restoration, species diversification, biodiversity and the development of outdoor recreation and tourism amenities.
“With the establishment of Coillte Nature, Coillte is seeking to advance its sustainability agenda by undertaking large discrete projects with a separate non-commercial focus.