The Irish Government and the European Commission have agreed to work closely together on the urgent preparation of a national plan for the conservation and restoration of 53 internationally important Irish raised bog sites protected under the EU Habitats Directive. This plan will have the aim of comprehensively addressing the challenge of conserving the sites for future generations while having full regard to the concerns of affected turf-cutters.
The agreement is part of an Irish Government follow-up to an 8 March 2012 resolution of the Irish Parliament calling for such a plan. The national plan will be developed, as a matter of priority, as quickly as possible and in close consultation with stakeholders. This will entail establishling an appropriate structure to ensure that all interests can engage and participate in the plan’s preparation. Indeed, it is vitally important for turf-cutting groups and other interested parties to work with the Irish Government in the development and execution of the plan as the long-term protection of these bogs will depend on the participation and support of local communities.
The plan itself will be wide-ranging, looking at practical aspects of conserving, restoring and managing these sites, including the job-opportunities that such work can provide. The drafting of a national plan will allow solutions for turf-cutters within each of the 53 raised bog sites to be explored in detail. The Irish Government will also examine the feasibility of allowing, in a manner consistent with the Habitats Directive, some limited turf-cutting within a small number of the 53 sites.