Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021

Introduction

Bord na Móna launched its first Biodiversity Action Plan in 2010. The plan covered a six year period spanning from 2010 to 2015. The development and promotion of the plan was the first of its kind amongst corporate entities in Ireland and is recognised as a significant initiative by Bord na Móna.

The 2010-2015 Biodiversity Action Plan set out in a comprehensive way why biodiversity is important to Bord na Móna and how it intends to build on the wealth of peatland management, rehabilitation, restoration and conservation that it has built up since its establishment in the 1940s.

The objectives and actions core to the Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015 were outlined under five key areas:

Objective 1

Policy and governance

Objective 2

Understanding the current baseline ecological condition of the Bord na Móna bog areas and the biodiversity present

Objective 3

Developing methods to rehabilitate and restore peatland areas in the post-production use phase

Objective 4

Engaging with the full range of stakeholders in relation to the management of biodiversity on Bord na Móna bogs and promoting awareness of the importance of biodiversity

Objective 5

Providing a mechanism whereby the delivery and progress of the objectives outlined within the Biodiversity Action Plan could be reviewed and assessed on an annual basis.

 

Each objective in the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015 was supported by a suite of actions and key performance indicators (KPIs) and for the greater part, all of the actions outlined in the 2010-2015 Biodiversity Action Plan have been acted upon, implemented and/or are in development. Over the course of the plan, priorities and focus changed as would be expected, but the key aspects of the plan remained relevant and continue to be relevant.

The Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 builds on the foundation of the original core objectives and the actions set out in the 2010-2015 plan, reframing them in the current context and perspectives of peatland biodiversity management, restoration and conservation and also in the outlook for Bord na Móna as set out in the company’s Sustainability 2030 report launched in October 2015. This document outlines some of the successes and challenges of the 2010-2015 plan, and sets out the actions and KPIs for the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021. While the actions build on the Bord na Móna experience to date, they are also ultimately a product of the views of the wider community as part of the engagement process carried out over the past six years, and particularly during the drafting of this Plan over the course of 2015.

Bord na Móna Land and Property and Ecology

Bord na Móna business units and structure

Bord na Móna is a large and diverse company with a central core of shared services that support each of the business units within the company. The main business units are Peat (all aspects of peat production for energy and horticulture), Horticulture (supply of horticultural peat and associated products such as green compost to the professional and retail markets), Powergen (electricity generation in power stations, wind farms and other renewable electricity developments), Biomass (sourcing and supply), Fuels (sales and development of low smoke and biomass fuels, distribution of briquettes, coal etc.), and Resource Recovery/AES (waste management). In association with these businesses there are a number of support services such as Finance, IT, Engineering, Procurement, Human Resources, Marketing and Communications and Business Transformation. One of the main support units is Land and Property which has a number of sub-units including the Board and Company Secretariat, Legal, Internal Audit, Commercial Land and Property, Land Title and Acquisition and Ecology.

Developing a Strategic Framework for Future Use of Peatlands

In 2011, the company published a framework that set out the range of current land uses active on the Bord na Móna landbank (approximately 80,000 hectares in total), the range of future uses that will be considered and the main factors influencing those uses. The Strategic Framework for Future Use of Peatlands recognises the limited agricultural and forestry potential and highlights the most commercially viable after-uses for the cutaway bogs as including renewable energy projects (wind, solar, biomass), niche commercial opportunities, tourism and amenity, and biodiversity. The framework essentially provides the context within which future developments by the company are considered. The framework is currently being reviewed and updated (2016), and it is expected that those uses identified previously will remain the core future uses.

The Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015 was developed under this framework and the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 must also be considered within the context of the Strategic Framework for Future Use of Cutaway Bogs. The strategic framework clearly highlights that biodiversity will be one of a number of the land-uses for the Bord na Móna bogs into the future. In practice, a number of land-uses can co-exist on any given bog area as evidenced by the wind farm developments at Oweninny and Mountlucas. At both of these locations where the wind farm footprints are relatively small within the total area of the sites, other commercial developments, as well as biodiversity and amenity are also land-uses at ground level. Tourism and amenity are recognised as having significant potential for the Bord na Móna bogs into the future as evidenced by the great success of the Lough Boora Discovery Park and the range of community led wetland projects and walking and cycle tracks developing across Ireland.

For more about the Bord na Móna amenity and tourism developments please visit our website www.bordnamona.ie

Bord na Móna Ecology

The responsibility for delivery of the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 lies with the Bord na Móna Ecology Team. The Ecology Team was established in 2009 following the adoption of a formal corporate objective relating to biodiversity. This corporate objective is “to promote the role of Bord na Móna in enhancing biodiversity and to create awareness of the values of cutaway bogs through wise-use management for biodiversity and carbon”. Since its establishment, the role of the Ecology Team and the services provided to the various businesses within the wider company, have become integral to the day to day business of Bord na Móna. Where required, the company also engages external ecological consultancy services and expertise, for example in relation to independent reviews for planning applications.

For more about the Bord na Móna Ecology Team please visit our website www.bordnamona.ie

Tom Barry and others in exhibition room, 1950s.

Tom Barry and others in exhibition room, 1950s.

Bord na Móna and Bog Conservation in Ireland

Bord na Móna was established in the 1940s from its precursor The Turf Development Board with a mission to develop the peatlands of Ireland primarily as an indigenous fuel resource. Largely concentrated in the midlands of Ireland, the bogs were industrially developed for turf in the early years, and subsequently for milled peat from the 1950s onwards. The milled peat method took bog development to a scale not experienced before in Ireland, and work in the main focused on the largest, most extensive bog areas such as the Bog of Allen complex in Kildare, the Clonsast and Derrygreenagh Bogs in East Offaly, the Boora and Blackwater complexes in West Offaly and East Galway, the Mountdillon Bog complex in Longford/Roscommon along the River Shannon and the Littleton Bogs in North Tipperary. These areas still continue to be the main focus of peat production. Former production areas include the Oweninny Works in North West Mayo.

From the days of the preceding Turf Development Board in the 1930s, up until the 1960s, the focus of the company was firmly set on peat production, providing not only an indigenous fuel resource but creating great socio-economic benefit particularly in the Midlands region. At the same time, the cutaway bogs as they emerged from production were viewed primarily with an interest in creating highly productive agricultural lands to enrich the midlands – a vision that was not found to be feasible except in focal minority areas where sub-soils and conditions favoured production of ‘good land’. In the early 1970s one of Bord na Móna’s staff Mr. Tom Barry (1915-1996), Peatland Environmental Officer, recognised and advocated the need to conserve and protect the best remaining examples of bogs for future generations.

Tom championed the conservation of bogs in Ireland both on the national and the international stages. He identified the best remaining examples of bogs and persuaded the Board and Management of Bord na Móna to set aside a number of bog areas for conservation. Pollardstown Fen and a suite of other well-known sites were purchased by the company purely for the purpose of conservation. These areas are preserved today because of Tom Barry’s vision and foresight. Following on from those bogs put forward by the company for conservation in the 1970s, a further series of bogs followed in the 1980s and 1990s, including Clara Bog, All Saint’s Bog, Mongan Bog and Bellacorick Flush. These are now in the ownership and management of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, An Taisce and others. A number of additional sites, for example Killaun Bog near Birr in County Offaly and Abbeyleix Bog in County Laois, remain in Bord na Móna’s ownership but are managed for biodiversity by the local communities.

Bord na Móna’s commitment to bog conservation was founded on the knowledge of Tom Barry. Today that commitment is being followed through and built upon as evidenced by the investment in the previous and current Biodiversity Action Plans and the work of the Ecology Team.

For more on the heritage of Bord na Móna see the company’s community website: www.heartland.ie