May 9th, 2018
On Saturday 19 May, National Biodiversity Week will launch with a flagship event at Abbeyleix Bog!
The Abbeyleix Bog Project (ABP) was developed by the action group Abbeyleix Residents for Environment Action (AREA), which was established in 2000.
Ten years later, a 50-year lease was signed with Bord Na Móna to give the land to the community with a focus on conservation management.
The bog restoration project restoration project began to help regain the biodiversity loss that occurred due to the overharvesting of peat moss.
What makes this project so successful is that it has a community-based management. The bog relies on the community to volunteer their time and effort to help conserve the bog.
The Importance of the Bog
Made up of around 500 acres of diverse habitat – including degraded (although recovering) raised bogs, lag, cutaway, wet carr woodland, and meadows – Abbeyleix Bog is filled with an extremely high level of biodiversity.
Due to the community-based management style, the restoration project is exceptionally popular with the surrounding community.
It has led to the development of environmental education for everyone in the community, which is accessible to everyone. Educational activities at the bog include nature walks, school projects, and third-level research.
They’ve even developed activities that have help drive ecotourism: the new boardwalk on the bog (allowing greater access for people), circular routes, and birdwatching activities.
Biodiversity in the Bog
There are six specific sections of the Bog: raised bog, Fen and cutaway, the Old Track, Wet Carr, Carr, and Pine Woods.
There is even a Lagg Zone in the Bog, one of three that can be found in the country. A Lagg Zone occurs when acidic bog water meets mineral-rich groundwater.
Since restoration began on the Bog, there have been 557 species recorded including 197 animals (mostly invertebrates and birds, with a small group of mammals).
Since the Bog is so large, it is likely that there are ecosystems that have yet to discover within the bog so there’s the high probability of discovered hundreds of more species.
There are over 50 FREE events going on all over Ireland during the week of 19-27 May, and there is bound to be something that catches your eye near you! You can check out the other 50 FREE events here.
By Nina Cerda
Nina is a volunteer at the Irish Environmental Network involved in organising National Biodiversity Week. She is a final year student in Animal Science, Pre-Veterinarian Medicine & Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is passionate about traveling, films, conservation issues & education.