The BRIEF

The BOGLAND project will review and synthesise current information on social, economic, environmental and institutional aspects of peatland utilisation and management and will conduct research in areas where knowledge gaps have been identified, and will develop a protocol for the sustainable management of peatlands in Ireland . 

The work will focus on three areas:

-           Biodiversity

-           Characterisation of the physical peatland resource and its use

-           Socio-cultural, economic & institutional/policy.

 

The overall objectives of the project will be:

-           To quantify the main features of the peatland resource, notably extent and volume, biodiversity, hydrology, carbon balance, contribution to greenhouse gases.

-           To assess vulnerability to environmental pressures and threats arising out of various kinds of exploitation (drainage, mining, forestry, energy, agriculture etc.)

-           To assess sociocultural, economic, institutional and policy issues

-           To integrate and synthesise the results of literature-based and field studies

-           To develop a protocol for the wise use/sustainable management of the peatland resource.

 

For details of each work packages click BOGLAND Brief

 

Sub-project  1 : Co-Ordination  
Leader: Florence Renou-Wilson

This work package is responsible for overall project coordination and especially collation and intergration of outputs of the various sub-projects so that focus is maintained on sustainable maangement of peatlands and an overall integrated assessment is delivered.

 

Sub-project 2 : Biodiversity  
Leaders: Tom Bolger and Florence Renou-Wilson

Biodiversity database preparation

A database incorporating all aspects of peatland biodiversity will be prepared, based on an extensive review of existing literature and supplemented by work carried out in this project.

Vegetation studies

Vegetation data will be gathered and vegetation survey of selected raised bog, blanket bog, fen and heath sites will be conducted using internationally accepted and standardized field and analytical methods.

Soil microbial community studies

Methane production by methanogenic archaea is a major source of atmospheric methane. This sub-project will assess diversity of these groups in order to compare their contribution to microbial community structure and to link their activity to Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Terrestrial invertebrate studies

A stratified sampling programme will be implemented to sample the main invertebrate taxa in three major types of peatland: blanket peats, raised peats and fen peats. Within each of these, intact and disturbed, managed and unmanaged sites will be sampled. A further layer of the stratification will allow the sampling of habitat patches within the larger habitat units. Sampling techniques such as suction sampling (Arnold 1994), sweep netting and Kempson bowl extraction (Kempson et al.1963) will be usd as appropriate.

Bird diversity studies

Current information on the bird fauna of peatlands will be complemented and extended by means of a census to be conducted (during the breeding season) on selected raised bogs (pristine and managed), blanket bogs (upland and lowland) and fens.

Aquatic invertebrates

This sub-project will focus on the invertebrate (macroinvertebrates and microcrustaceans) fauna of the various openwater bodies within the bog. A literature review and pilot field exercise will firstly be undertaken to select and standardise sampling methods appropriate to future monitoring needs. Sampling of a range of habitat types and ages from intact and managed bogs and new open water on cutaway bogs will be undertaken.

 

Sub-project 3 : Characterisation of the physical peatland resource and its use  
Leaders: Shane Ward and Florence Renou-Wilson

The objectives of this work package area: 

-To develop a mapping base of the peatland resource (3-D), including quantification of the carbon reserve, which will provide the descriptive reference for all the other workpackages (i.e. the results from the other work will be expressed in terms of the mapping legends used).

-To examine the impact of climate change scenarios on the stability of the peatland carbon resource, using medium (< 50 years) and long (>100 years) timescales. It will integrate the outputs of the others WPs into climate change scenarios analyses, and will, in particular, identify those sites that are at significant risk of change of “status” (e.g. sink to source of carbon).

-To review current peatland mining (extraction) practices (commercial, turbary, etc) and position them with respect to operations elsewhere worldwide. It will review peat in the context of national energy policy and the potential use of peatlands as a base for biomass production (in the context of an integrated pan-EU biomass energy policy – which is strongly advocated by the European Commission).

-To examine the risk of “bogslides” arising from man-induced operations on peatlands.

-To examine peatland vulnerability to human interference, in particular with respect to greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes - including the interaction of land use change with GHG emissions (e.g. move from CH4 emitter to CO2 emitter due to drainage). An international Workshop on GHG fluxes will be held as part of the information gathering and peer-review process. Carbon fluxes will be measured using a static chamber technique.

- To examine the impact of sheep grazing on hill and mountain peatlands. This will be led by Teagasc and include National University Ireland Galway and University of Limerick.. It will quantify the sustainability of sheep grazing management strategies in terms of erosion risk, nutrient losses, maintenance of habitat and vegetation coverage.

-To identify key hydrological indicators and mitigation measures to enable ecological regeneration and sustainable development of peatlands.

 

 

Work package 4 : Socio-cultural, economic and institutional/policy  
Leader: Frank Convery

 

This part of the project aims to develop an understanding of the values the Irish public in general and adjacent communities in particular, bring to choices concerning peatlands, how the contribution of peatlands in social, economic and environmental terms can be characterised by indicators over time, and how they should be managed to maintain or enhance their economic, social and environmental functions.

Through surveys, focus groups and literature review the researchers will explore the use and benefits of peatlands, including for fuel use and as a productive asset, but also for recreation, together with the passive use benefit associated with landscape and the preservation of special flora and fauna. The work may reveal both the valuation of the existing benefits provided by peatlands, together with the potential benefits if pro-actively managed for nature.

In addition, a complete review of the national (Ireland’s Kyoto commitments, energy policy) and EU policies (including CAP and Kyoto) and their impact on peatlands (agriculture, fuel harvesting, use for wind power etc.) will be examined. An attempt to understand how policies are formulated and implemented and the political resources available for peatlands will be made, with emphasis on the use of economic instruments in use globally for sustainable peatland management.

The project intends to carry out in-depth case study and scientifically-grounded scenario for Roscommon / Longford cutaways with a view to producing a blueprint on community and other stakeholder involvement in the future of peatlands.

Finally, the work will be integrated and synthesised forming the basis of a protocol for the sustainable management of peatland in Ireland.

 

For details of each work packages click BOGLAND Brief

 

 

     

 

       

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

The authors are grateful for the support of the Environmental RTDI Programme 2000-2006, financed by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan and administered on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Last updated: 10 December 2007

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