CABB Peatland Project

Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB)

Supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), CABB is a €4.9m five-year partnership project. It is led by RSPB NI and also involves RSPB Scotland, Birdwatch Ireland, Butterfly Conservation, Moors for the Future and Northern Ireland Water.

Project will produce Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) for eight SACs/SPAs in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

The sites where CAPs will be prepared are as follows:


The CABB team will also conduct habitat management work at key sites, including blocking drains to re-wet blanket bogs, introducing predator fences and new grazing regimes on blanket bog and machair, managing rush on lowland wet grassland, and consolidating the sea wall at Loch Gruinart, Islay, to protect the habitat beyond for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl. 

CABB is a three-country, six-partner conservation project that will improve habitats for birds, butterflies and plants across Northern Ireland, Ireland and the west coast of Scotland.

Four peatland SACs in Co Donegal selected for Conservation Plans, drawn up in consultation and with participation of landowners, farmers and other stake-holders such as foresters, local and state authorities, turbary owners and turf-cutters, water utilities, tourism operators and so on.

The CABB sites contain some of the best remaining expanses of lowland and upland active blanket bog, where notable, distinctive features are the mossy hummocks interspaced with wet hollows or Atlantic Bog Pools, Fens and flushes, Transition Mires and Quaking Bog, each hosting specialist flora and fauna that collectively makes up a treasure trove of Ireland’s ecology and biodiversity.

These plans will propose a package of steps, measures and actions aimed at accomplishing effective conservation and restoration of the EU Priority Habitat, Blanket Bog, as well as associated habitats and birds, especially Annex 1 or red-listed species including breeding Golden Plover, Dunlin, Red Grouse, and wintering Greenland-White-fronted Goose.


  • Improve habitats for breeding wading birds such as curlews, lapwings, redshanks and snipe as well as hen harriers and marsh fritillary butterflies.
  • Work towards the restoration of 2,228 hectares (ha) of blanket bog across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland.
  • Work closely with landowners and farmers to map habitats and prepare eight Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) for EU-designated sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas).
  • Raise awareness in local communities of the environmental, cultural and historic importance of blanket bogs and key wetland habitats.
  • Share experiences, best practice and data.


  • Habitat improvement works at key wetland sites, including:
    • CABB funded fencing at Montiaghs Moss in Co Antrim, Airds Moss in Scotland and Pettigo National Nature Reserve in Co Donegal is facilitating much needed conservation grazing.
    • Rush cutting, maintenance work to predator fencing and scrub clearance work have enhanced conditions for breeding waders at Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh.
    • New machinery has been purchased in Co Fermanagh to aid in our conservation grazing efforts and management of wetland sites. A new Cot was purchased to transport livestock to the Lough Erne Islands of Fermanagh for conservation grazing and a new tractor with custom Soucy tracks has been delivered to delicately undertake rush cutting on the bog sites.
    • Removal of scrub and rank vegetation on Inisheher Island, Co Leitrim is supporting breeding curlew.
  • Butterfly Conservation are leading a dedicated programme to help the marsh fritillary butterfly by:
    • Identifying existing and potential breeding sites.
    • Working closely with landowners to sensitively manage habitat.
    • Training volunteers to assist with habitat and larval web surveys. In Autumn 2018, 34 new volunteers took part in training to record and identify breeding sites.
  • Large scale peatland restoration works successfully carried out at three sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland:
    • Over 1000 peat, wooden and stone dams have been installed to block drains at the Garron Plateau Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in Co Antrim.
    • In East Ayrshire, the Shiel Farm ‘Plantation to Bog Restoration’ project has been completed, and the former bog is now wholly rewetted.
    • 800 hectares of valuable peatland is now in recovering condition following restoration works at Tardoes Farm, also in East Ayrshire.
  • Contractors have delivered detailed habitat and LiDAR mapping of CABB sites in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland. Mapping enhances our understanding of the varying habitats within each site and informs the specific actions that need to be taken to improve the condition of the land and enhance opportunities for wildlife.
  • The Conservation Action Plan (CAP) for the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area (SPA) has been signed off by Scottish Natural Heritage. This is the first of eight CAPs which will be delivered by CABB. 
  • CABB surveys for all sites have provided valuable, up to date records on vegetation distribution and species:
    • Three annual breeding wader surveys were carried out by BirdWatch Ireland across twenty key coastal and machair sites in counties Donegal and Sligo.
    • 177 new species records for Pettigoe Plateau, Co Fermanagh have been submitted to the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) in Northern Ireland.
  • CABB project officers have continued to learn from each other, share-best practice and participate in collaborative initiatives with other projects, including:
    • Information sharing events with our sister project ‘Collaborative Action for the Natura Network’ (CANN).
    • Attendance at the 2018 (Loch Lomond) & 2019 (Belfast) IUCN Peatlands conference and networking events.
  • Public engagement activities to raise awareness and involve the wider community in CABB conservation efforts include:
    • Information events for landowners and local residents.
    • Production of CABB project newsletters, a special educational leaflet on the Marsh Fritillary and a short film of the Garron Plateau.
    • High profile coverage on radio and television, including the popular TV series ‘Chronicles of Erne’ (BBC NI) and ‘Lough Neagh’ (UTV).
  • Engaging volunteers in all aspects of CABB, from surveys, scrub removal and fence repairs in the field, to assisting with finance, media and administration in the office.

Planned Work

By the end of 2021 we aim to have:

  • Published eight Conservation Action Plans for key EU designated SACs and SPAs. 
  • Blocked drains on the Garron Plateau with a view to restoring 444ha of blanket bog.
  • Blocked drains on the Muirkirk Uplands to allow 435ha of blanket bog to start recovering. 
  • Improved the condition of 900ha of blanket bog on the Dunragh Loughs/Pettigo Plateau SAC by erecting fencing and improving grazing. 
  • Blocked drains at Finandarry in the Ox Mountains with a view to restoring 449ha of blanket bog.
  • Improved 151ha of habitat at the Montiaghs SAC through water level management, scrub clearance, grazing and the installation of fencing.
  • Improved public access to the Montiaghs SAC through provision of a boardwalk and signage.
  • Improved 252ha of wet grassland in Co Fermanagh for breeding waders.
  • Consolidated the sea wall at Loch Gruinart, Islay, to protect key areas for breeding and wintering birds.
  • Uploaded habitat and species data to the main data management sites in each of the three countries.
  • Delivered practical conservation action for the endangered Marsh Fritillary butterfly to help manage the habitats it needs through conservation grazing.

For more information about:


Garron Plateau

Montiaghs Moss SAC

Pettigoe Plateau SAC

Dunragh/ Pettigo Plateau SAC

Meentygrannagh SAC

Croaghonagh Bog

Lough Nillan Bog SPA/Lough Nillan Bog (Carricktlieve) SAC

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