Jewels of the Irish bog on display during Biodiversity Week 2018

Published by Niall Sargent on

May 17th, 2018

The elaborate and colourful nature of Ireland’s bogs is set to feature at a series of public events during National Biodiversity Week 2018.

The week will kick off with a unique tour of Abbeyleix Bog, Co Laois on 19 May 2018 led by environmental broadcasters, Éanna Ní Lamhna and Anja Murray.

The Abbeyleix Bog is made up of 500 acres of diverse habitats, including raised bogs, lag, cutaway bog, wet carr woodland and meadows.

The Abbeyleix Bog is also filled with extremely high biodiversity, with over 550 species have been recorded on the Bog, including now rare species such as the Hen Harrier, Curlew, Short-Eared Owl and Red Squirrels.

There are several species that are native only to the Bog, and with such an array of unique ecosystems placed within the Bog, there are still many more species to be discovered.

Following years of hard work to protect the Bog by the volunteer-led Abbeyleix Bog Project, a 50-year lease was signed with Bord Na Móna in 2010 to give the land to the community to manage the conservation of the Bog.

Today, ABP manages the Bog as an open-access amenity and coordinates with academics, researchers, conservation charities, and local groups to protect the diverse species on the Bog.

For example, Groundwork is currently working to control the impact of rhododendron on bog biodiversity, while Denise O’Meara of Waterford Institute of Technology is working with Portlaoise Men’s Shed to support the Bog’s pine marten population.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are also involved in an ongoing project to better understand bog hydrology and the bog’s value as a carbon sink.

None of this would have been possible without the work of the Abbeyleix Bog Project to conserve and protect the Bog that was once threatened by peat moss harvesting.

Chris Uys of the Abbeyleix Bog Project, said:  “The Abbeyleix Bog Project has proven the importance of community involvement in the protection and maintenance of our biodiversity through habitat conservation.

“Biodiversity in our natural ecosystems or habitats is vital for the overall well-being of the human race. Where else do people go to find solace, peace of mind, fresh air, inspiration?”

Abbeyleix Bog Photo: Alf Harvey

Abbeyleix Bog Photo: Alf Harvey

Jewels of the Boglands

As part of the week, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) will also host events at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre in Co. Kildare and Girley Bog in Co. Meath.

The line-up will include the top ten most loved butterflies in Ireland, three wonderful waders and the curious insect-eating sundew plants.

Building the public’s awareness of the importance of Ireland’s bogs is essential to the conservation of these rare habitats, the conservation group said.

The IPCC’s Jewels of the Boglands pageant will kick off at 12pm this Sunday the 20th of May with The Wonder of Waders at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre.

The event will highlight the plight of some of Ireland’s breeding waders including Curlew, Lapwing and Snipe, all of which have seen a decline in recent decades.

These birds all breed on the Bog of Allen and the event will discuss conservation efforts on Lodge Bog and surrounding areas.

Ireland’s bogs are “important refuges” for rare and endangered species, according to IPCC Conservation Officer, Katie Geraghty.

“It is important to celebrate these beautiful habitats and the rare jewels that can be found living in them,” she added.

The second event – The Bogtastic Biodiversity of Girley Bog will take on Wednesday 23rd of May and will celebrate the biodiversity of bogs.

The event will showcase some of their fascinating flora including the insect-eating Sundew and peat-forming Sphagnum mosses.

On Sunday the 27th of May, IPCC will also celebrate the “true beauties” of the bog as they with the Butterfliesof Lullymore West event at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre.

IPCC will also invite the local community to come along and voice their opinion about the vision and actions of the new Lullymore West Bog Conservation Management Plan 2018-2025.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London