European Peatlands Initiative
Peatlands were to the fore in Dublin today (May 8th) as the government hosted an event attended by several European Countries, which discussed the development of a European Peatlands Initiative (EPI). The aim of the event was to strengthen existing ties between countries whose joint aims are to create momentum for peatlands restoration, conservation, and sustainable management.
I was delighted to welcome those present, particularly given how discussions around peat soils are relevant in Ireland and specifically in my area of the Midlands of Ireland.
Peat soils under agricultural management represent around 7% of our total agricultural area, a significant proportion of which are in the Midlands.
Yet there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of the location, management and emissions from drained organic soils under agricultural management. Further research will be vitally important in improving our understanding of peat soils.
In order to achieve specific agricultural actions in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, my Department has invested heavily in peat-based research projects to address the knowledge gap. Last week I announced our most recent project on peat soils: A commitment as part of the EU Just Transition Fund, to establish a €15 million Midlands Carbon Catchment Study to pioneer research in reducing emissions from organic soils.
We need to work with farmers at a catchment level to test new and novel ways of alternative and sustainable land management. This is another important step in developing pathways to emission reductions from farmed peat soils, and to research ways of engaging and fully rewarding farmers for their efforts, so that social and economic benefits are strengthened in tandem with environmental benefits. That is what Just Transition means.
With a hope to launch the Initiative in 2024, participants at the meeting included the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment; the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, and the UNEP Global Peatlands Initiative.