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ireland has moved away from peat lifting to protect the environment
Aivee Akther International Environment

Ireland has moved away from peat lifting to protect the environment

Ireland has moved away from peat lifting to protect the environment


One of the hallmarks of the nature of Ireland is Peatland. Once Peat was used to mining in peatland, which was a significant energy source for the country.

Peatland is exceptionally eco-friendly as it stores lots of carbon. However, this peatland again causes significant damage to the environment when water is removed from the surface to collect peat. Ireland has moved away from peat lifting due to environmental concerns.

Abbeyleix Bog is a peatland as well as a Wetland of about 500 hectares in central Ireland. There was planning to extract peat from there a decade ago. However, it was not possible in the face of protests from residents.

Chris Ish, a consultant with the Abbeyleix Wetlands Project, said that the unique feature of peatland’s plants is their extraordinary water holding capacity.

They can hold about 25 times more water than their weight. According to Chris, removing water during peat extraction causes carbon emissions, amounting to about six to 15 tons per hectare per year.

The best-known picture of the nature of Ireland is probably peatland. They account for 17% of the country. Undamaged peatlands are essential for a healthy environment.

Although peatland accounts for only 3 percent of the world’s land area, it contains almost twice as much carbon as forests. For the last few decades, the primary fuel source in Ireland has been peat. Still, about 25% of the houses use peat to keep their home hot in some areas. Nevertheless, change is coming.

For several years, a 50 percent state-owned company named “Bord na Móna” involved peat extraction. Three power plants would run by burning peat as their primary source.

The last power plant to run only on Pitt got shut down in 2020. At the beginning of last year, the board announced that the lifting of peat would stop completely.

However, Pat Marlehan is keen to keep the pit-lifting work at least on a small scale to introduce future generations to traditions. According to him, “With the board or the Mona Company stopping pit mining, there will now be more carbon storage, and more wetlands will remain intact.

As a result, maintaining small-scale peat retention in the future does not seem to be a problem for preserving tradition and culture. On the contrary, I think it is essential for future generations. “

However, Tristram White, a member of the Peatland Conservation Council, thinks this is not easy to consider. He said, “This wetland is home to many insects, including birds and grasshoppers. Therefore, small scale pit lifting is also harmful to the environment.”

“Continuing to raise peat on a smaller scale than the way it has mined in the Midlands for fuel or power generation might not have as much of an impact on the environment.

However, we should not overlook that when water gets removed to make peat, we remove water from the whole wetland, affecting plants, insects, and birds. The sediment in the river will also create problems for aquatic life,” he continued.

Nevertheless, hopefully, wetlands in Ireland as a cheap and abundant fuel source are over. Instead, there is growing awareness about the role of wetlands in tackling the effects of climate change and protecting different species.

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