Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021

Objective 4 – Raise Awareness and Create a Greater Appreciation of the Biodiversity and Natural Heritage of Bord na Móna Cutaway Bogs and Associated Lands

A considerable part of the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015 has focussed on communication and creating awareness of the value of biodiversity, and the benefits of rehabilitation and restoration of the Bord na Móna bogs. This work will continue under the next planning phase and ranges from local to international levels.

The work to date of the Ecology Team and in particular the interaction with the wider Bord na Móna community has demonstrated the significant role that biodiversity and rehabilitation plays in our day to day business. This interaction ranges from regular updates to senior management, peat operations managers and regular contributions to the employee magazine and company intranet.

Key Performance Indicators

Some of the key performance indicators in the period 2010-2015

National

  • Organisation of annual Biodiversity Action Plan review days incorporating presentations and field trips to rehabilitated sites (November 2011 Ballinasloe and Cuckoo Hill Bog; January 2013 Lough Boora Discovery Park; December 2013 Tullamore and Mountlucas wind farm; February 2015 Athlone and Ballydangan Bog)
  • Input to Irish Peatland Society annual events (Abbeyleix Bog 2009, Peatlands – a new conversation 2015) and other national conferences (such as Natural Capital – Ireland’s Hidden Wealth 2014, Environment Ireland 2014)
  • Organisation and co-ordination of Lough Boora Bioblitz 2012 and associated biodiversity events over a 24 hour period (May 2012); support of Abbeyleix Bioblitz 2013
  • Development of a leaflet about the Bord na Móna Raised Bog Restoration programme outlining how the bogs are restored and the extent of the sites (2015)
  • Input to national media focusing on biodiversity projects – print (Bord na Móna Source magazine for employees, Irish Times, Independent, regional newspapers), radio (Mooney Goes Wild, regional and ocal stations) and television (Nationwide, Eco-Eye, RTÉ news, TG4 news)
  • Circulation of Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015 to statutory and non-statutory consultees and to local and regional libraries; development of Bord na Móna Biodiversity webpages as part of the company website
  • Input to Heritage Plans – national and county levels – through active participation on heritage fora; input and participation in other groups such as Woodlands of Ireland, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), etc.
  • Development of signage for selected biodiversity area (ongoing)
  • Direct ecological input to development of Lough Boora Discovery Park centre and provision of website material

Delivery of ecology training programme to peat production managers and those involved in bog operations

Internal

  • Co-ordination and delivery of an annual ecology training programme to Bord na Móna peat production managers and those involved in bog operations
  • Regular contributed articles to company magazine Source, input to annual and sustainability reports and online company intranet

International

  • Presentations about Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan at seminars and workshops at international levels (includes International Peat Congress 2012 in Stockholm, IPS Annual Assemblies Finland 2010, Quebec 2011, Netherlands 2013, Riga 2014; Society of Ecological Restoration meetings France 2010, Finland 2014 and UK 2015, IUCN Peatlands event Inverness 2014)
  • Contributions to Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and IUCN UK Peatland project publications on peatland restoration and biodiversity

Community

  • Presentations and field trips with primary, secondary and third level education classes
  • Organisation of biodiversity walks and talks for Biodiversity weeks 2010-2015, Heritage weeks 2010-2015, Offaly Naturalists’ Field-club, Dublin Naturalists’ Field-club and a range of other communications at local level
  • Development of Lullymore wetlands in association with Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, Co. Kildare
  • Co-ordination and chairing of Abbeyleix Bog Technical Advisory Group (TAG)
  • Member of Ballydangan Red Grouse project stakeholders group (South Roscommon) – sponsorship of project as well as ongoing practical assistance
  • Working with special interest groups such as Butterfly Conservation Ireland, Wetlands Heritage Ireland and community groups such as local game clubs to facilitate access to Bord na Móna bogs and develop partnership agreements
  • Member of the Community Wetlands Forum (2015 to present)

Building on this work the following actions can be outlined for the period 2016-2021.

Actions

  • Develop and promote a biodiversity awareness-raising campaign within Bord na Móna and to the wider public of the biodiversity value of the Bord na Móna bogs
  • Identify and promote further accessible sites of biodiversity conservation interest on Bord na Móna bogs
  • Promote increased participation in the conservation of our natural heritage by supporting community-led biodiversity projects such as the Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, Ballydangan Red Grouse project, Wetlands Heritage Ireland, Abbeyleix Bog project and/or other walkways/amenity projects
  • Consult with relevant bodies and interested parties on a regular basis to communicate updates in the biodiversity work programme and also to identify potential partnership projects within the Bord na Móna bog and adjacent lands

These actions will require ongoing work including:

  • Promote community engagement in relation to the full range of Bord na Móna’s business activities, highlighting biodiversity and eco-tourism aspects
  • Continue to organise an annual seminar and/or workshop with a field trip to present updates on the Bord na Móna biodiversity work programme outlined in the Biodiversity Action plan to relevant bodies and interested parties
  • Circulate the next Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 to all relevant bodies and interested parties; make an electronic copy available on-line
  • Re-develop the Bord na Móna website biodiversity pages with an overview of all projects carried out to date with information and details on access to sites
  • Develop a Bord na Móna Biodiversity Facebook page to share photos and updates on survey and rehabilitation work
  • Work with other agencies to develop fact sheets and best practice guidelines based on the biodiversity of the Bord na Móna bogs, but also with a view to the wider national biodiversity resource
  • As new biodiversity sites are identified, establish appropriate signage at biodiversity areas with information on biodiversity features, management and projects at each site
  • Promote Bord na Móna policy of wildlife conservation/protection on Bord na Móna bog areas
Facilitate areas where people can access the Bord na Móna bogs

Facilitate areas where people can access the Bord na Móna bogs

  • Participate in Heritage fora organised by local authorities and other biodiversity working groups for the counties within which Bord na Móna operates
  • Contribute articles to local and national media; participate and present in workshops and conferences relating to heritage, biodiversity and other areas of relevance
  • Contribute biodiversity related articles to Bord na Móna media, such as the company magazine (Source) and the intranet; arrange biodiversity awareness days and training opportunities in the form of workshops for bog operatives and managers; develop a biodiversity factsheet for all Bord na Móna employees
  • Continue to engage with relevant bodies and interested parties including: Government Departments, National Parks and Wildlife Service,
    National Biodiversity Data Centre, Environmental Protection Agency, Fishery Boards, County Councils, Coillte, Irish Farmer’s Association, Heritage Council, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Butterfly Conservation Ireland, Irish Peatland Society and Woodlands of Ireland, and other NGO’s, local and national media, research and educational institutions (primary, secondary and third level) as well as the local landowners and communities that live in close proximity to the bogs

Organise field trips and workshops for the public

  • Interact with local communities and schools to identify potential local needs and projects in terms of amenity, education and/or biodiversity areas
  • Organise field trips and workshops for the public in conjunction with established Biodiversity and Heritage programmes; explore the development of a Bord na Móna Bioblitz event annually to highlight biodiversity in different bog areas
  • Facilitate areas where people can access the Bord na Móna bogs and selected biodiversity areas, such as Lough Boora Discovery Park and other walkways initiatives
  • Develop a primary schools biodiversity education system promoting awareness of biodiversity across Ireland which will include biodiversity on Bord na Móna lands (PILOT running Jan – June 2016, with further roll-out to 150 schools in Sept 2016 and building over a 5 year period)
  • Work with the An Taisce Green Schools initiative This will involve corporate sponsorship of the Biodiversity section of the first Green Schools Expo in February 2016, as well as providing peatland biodiversity expertise at the expo for schools (general peatland biodiversity information and careers advice)

Key Indicators of Success

The key indicators of success of these actions will be:

  • Increased awareness of biodiversity within Bord na Móna and in the wider local and national community
  • Archive of biodiversity related articles submitted to all relevant media to be included on Bord na Móna biodiversity website
  • An established and mapped network of selected biodiversity areas and walking and/or cycling routes with signage and relevant printed information about Bord na Móna and biodiversity
  • Increased access and visits to selected Bord na Móna biodiversity areas
  • Biodiversity awareness projects established with local schools and communities and/or other interest groups
  • Ongoing consultation with relevant bodies and interested parties

Lough Boora Discovery Park – Bioblitz Uncovered

BioBlitz is a scientific race against time. The aim of this fun event is to find as many species as possible within a state-owned park or area over a 24 hour period. This is a unique event where scientists, students and the general public can come together and learn how scientists and recorders use their skills to study the wildlife of an area. It introduces the non-specialist to the fabulous wealth of biodiversity that occurs all around us.

Bird hide at Lough Boora

Bird hide at Lough Boora

The Lough Boora BioBlitz 2012 was a great success with many more species recorded than had been expected, with a huge turnout of professional scientists and high public participation. Nine hundred and forty species were recorded on the day, including 334 vascular plant species which was more than any other BioBlitz 2012 site. The success of the event was largely due first and foremost to the biodiversity of the rehabilitated cutaway but also to the close collaboration and hard work of a number of organisations including Bord na Móna staff from a range of businesses, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Offaly County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Coillte, Bat Conservation Ireland, Butterfly Conservation Ireland, Moths Ireland, BirdWatch Ireland, BSBI, Irish Wildlife Trust, Inland Fisheries Ireland, staff and members of NUI Galway and a number of independent ecologists.

Some of the public events over the 24 hour period included a Bat Walk on the Friday night, a Dawn Chorus led by BirdWatch Ireland, a mammal identification workshop, a moth capture demonstration, a display of aquatic creatures by Inland Fisheries Ireland and a schools wildlife art competition for primary school students local to the area.

For more information see:
www.bioblitz2012.biodiversityireland.ie

bioblitz_graphic_1000

 

Following the success of the 2012 Bioblitz, and a similar event held on Abbeyleix Bog in 2013, Bord na Móna will explore the development of a Bord na Móna Bioblitz event annually to highlight biodiversity in different bog areas

Following the success of the 2012 Bioblitz, and a similar event held on Abbeyleix Bog in 2013, Bord na Móna will explore the development of a Bord na Móna Bioblitz event annually to highlight biodiversity in different bog areas

Community-Led Wetland Projects

Local communities living on the edges of the Bord na Móna bogs are the inspiration for a range of projects and initiatives. In the period 2010-2015, a number of community-led biodiversity and wetland projects have come to fore and Bord na Móna has provided support where possible. Projects such as the work of Wetlands Heritage Ireland and the Abbeyleix Bog Conservation Project have been significant developments and continue to develop with time.

Wetlands Heritage Ireland is led by the local Keenagh community in County Longford and their interest is largely focussed on the area around the Corlea Trackway Interpretive Centre. Bord na Móna is working with the group to develop further educational and experiential facilities around the existing centre and these will progress in the period 2016-2021. This community project is aligned with the Mid Shannon Wilderness project currently being developed by Longford County Council and partners.

Abbeyleix Bog Conservation project in County Laois is led by local Abbeyleix community representatives. After completion of a comprehensive drain blocking programme in 2009, Bord na Móna leased the site to the local community and continues to provide support to the community through chairing of the bog Technical Advisory Group in conjunction with staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Laois County Council and IPCC. The project is viewed nationally as a best practice case study for the future successful management of bog conservation and restoration sites in Ireland.

Two projects with potential for development between 2016 and 2021 are the Ballivor Bog project in County Meath (bog conservation and amenity) and the new IRD Duhallow (Barna Bog – Hen Harrier conservation) project in County Kerry.

Lullymore Wetlands

"Charlie's Boardwalk" at Lullymore. Photo courtesy of Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park.

Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park is a community run project near Rathangan in County Kildare. The Park was officially launched in 1993 and tells the story of Lullymore and the bog which surrounds it through guided tours, interactive displays and exhibits. The story moves from bog formation to the arrival of Mesolithic settlers, to early Christian times through to the Irish Famine and Rebellion period, and also to the development and heritage of Bord na Móna and the boglands.

Since 2010, the Ecology Team has worked with the local Bord na Móna staff to develop a wetland area to provide a local educational resource for the group allowing them to tell their story and expand their tourism and amenity offering to national and international groups alike. This has resulted in a partnership project whereby a rehabilitated wetland and a typical Bord na Móna railway track has been laid and is now operated by the local staff. The site also supports a café and an indoor play area that encourages school children and parents to visit throughout the year.

www.lullymoreheritagepark.com

The Lullymore wetlands area itself is a larger area and is developing great interest locally and nationally from environmental groups such as Kildare BirdWatch Ireland branch and Butterfly Conservation Ireland (BCI). Part of the site is managed specifically for butterflies by BCI and is now established as a nationally significant site for butterflies and moths. Bord na Móna has zoned the site for biodiversity and it will continue to be monitored to document and inform future management.

Ballydangan Red Grouse Project

Red Setters are used to count Red Grouse numbers on Ballydangan Bog.

Red Setters are used to count Red Grouse numbers on Ballydangan Bog.

Ballydangan Bog in County Roscommon is a midlands raised bog owned by Bord na Móna and is one of the sites included in the company’s Raised Bog Restoration Programme (2009-present). Drainage ditches were installed on the 218 ha site in the early 1980s in preparation for industrial peat production, but no further work carried out as the bog was deemed surplus to requirements.

While Red Grouse numbers have remained stable since the project began, three pairs of Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) have successfully bred on the site.

In 2009 the local community groups living around the bog became aware that the local population of Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus hibernicus) centred on Ballydangan Bog and neighbouring bog areas had dramatically declined and was on the brink of a local extinction. The Ballydangan Red Grouse project was established in 2009 and started with the local community leasing Ballydangan Bog from Bord na Móna. Following on from the production of a Red Grouse Management Plan the Department of Social Protection employed four full time local staff to facilitate the work which includes predator control, heather cutting and habitat management.

In September 2013 Bord na Móna began restoring the raised bog habitat, in tandem with the community efforts to maintain the local Grouse population. This involved a comprehensive drain blocking programme to rewet the site and over 3,744 peat dams were installed. The aim of the restoration work is to raise the water levels and facilitate the development of active raised bog areas. The rewetting will also improve the overall habitat for typical peatland bird species including the Red Grouse.

While Red Grouse numbers have remained stable since the project began, three pairs of Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) have successfully bred on the site. Translocation efforts to relocate Red Grouse birds from a stable population in another county to Ballydangan were attempted in 2014 and 2015 with little success to date.

Ballydangan Bog is frequently used by local schools

Ballydangan Bog is frequently used by local schools