LIFE IP Peatlands and People – Irelands Climate Action Catalyst

LIFE19 IPC/IE/000007

Start Date: 01/10/2020
End Date: 30/09/2027
Total Budget: 27,838,351 €
EU Contribution: 9,894,803 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Bord na Mona
Legal Status: PRIVATE
Address: Ireland
Contact Person: John MacNamara


Through the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19), the countrys Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has outlined 183 actions targeted at tackling climate change. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon energy systems for Irish society and in the process create a resilient, vibrant and sustainable country.

Peatlands and the communities around them in the Midlands region of Ireland are the countrys only Just Transition peatlands-based region. Ireland has a high proportion of Europes remaining peatlands, comprising almost 21% of the national land area, just under 1.5 million ha. This includes a variety of raised and blanket bogs, fens, and wet and dry heath many of which are recognised as priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive.

These peatlands have numerous values, including their potential as carbon sinks, along with manyother ecosystem services, and their significant level of biodiversity. Historically, Irelands peatlands were harvested predominantly for fuel. Industrial peat extraction and traditional and mechanical turf cutting have resulted in the loss of 47% of the original area of peatlands in Ireland over half a million hectares of land. Further, of the 1.475 million ha of peatlands in Ireland, approximately 80% are considered degraded. It is estimated that these degraded peatlands emit approximately 10 MtCO2eq each year.

Peatlands are embedded in Irelands culture and heritage, with a history of conflict and legal challenges. The involvement of multiple stakeholders and landowners, including communities, private landowners and public bodies, adds to the complicated task of restoring and protecting peatlands for their carbon storage, environmental and biodiversity potential.


LIFE IP Peatlands and People will target the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19). The project will use peatlands as a model to inspire behavioural change and build capacity and economy in a region of transition, catalysing the long-term implementation of the full plan. It will integrate actions from five sections of the CAP19: enterprise; agriculture, forestry and land use; waste and the circular economy; public sector leading by example; and citizen engagement, community leadership and just transition.

The project will collaborate locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to generate and share solutions, knowledge and content for a systemic transformation to a carbon neutral future using three pillars: a Peatlands Centre of Excellence; a Just Transition Accelerator; and a Peoples Discovery Attraction. LIFE IP Peatlands and People will engage and try to address the concerns of all stakeholders and in doing so help change perceptions of peat as solely a fuel source to instead viewing it as an important natural asset.

The projects key objectives are: Contribute towards the implementation of the CAP19; Best-practice restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands for the reduction of greenhouse gases and enhancing carbon storage potential, both in the integrated project and also of additional peatlands through complementary actions and dissemination activities; Development of a Just Transition Accelerator which will encourage economic growth in the Midlands through capacity building, job creation and new value chains; and Development of a Peoples Discovery Attraction which will significantly contribute to a more climate-literate society and help bring about behaviour change, as well as attract visitors to the Midlands and generate employment in the Midlands.

In addition to its own budget, the project hopes to facilitate the coordinated use of more than 127 million in complementary funding from public and private funds.

LIFE IP Peatlands and People will contribute to implementation of a wide range of international, EU and national legislation. At EU level, this includes: the biodiversity strategy for 2030; action plan for nature, people and the economy; numerous directives (the Birds, Habitats, Floods, Water Framework, Ambient Air Quality, Renewable Energy, Emissions Trading Scheme and Extractive Waste directives); the European Green Deal; Green InfrastructureEnhancing Europe’s Natural Capital; the circular economy action plan; the 2030 framework for climate and energy; and the LULUCF Regulation.


Expected results: Peatlands Centre of Excellence Restoration to favourable conservation status of Annex 1 (Habitats Directive) priority habitat on 2 900 ha of Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated raised bogs, with the aim of halting emissions and increasing carbon storage; Rehabilitation to an enhanced level of 7 000 ha of BnM-owned sites including high bog, marginal cutover and cutaway bogs, with the aim of carbon storage; Reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and improvement in air quality and reduction of emissions; Inform national GHG emission inventories and the development of policy and practice for the protection and rehabilitation of raised bogs; and Development of long-term rehabilitation and restoration demonstration and research sites to track ecosystem services benefits and to contribute to the Peatlands Centre of Excellence.

Just Transition Accelerator Development of the Just Transition Accelerator model for the Midlands region; Roadmap on approaching a low carbon economy for the Midlands region presented at three events; At least 20 companies progressively having advanced towards the next stage in their growth in order to deliver on decarbonisation solutions; and Additional funding, partnerships and support from outside entities in order to grow the Just Transition Accelerator.

Peoples Discovery Attraction A fully developed business plan and quantitated market for the Peoples Discovery Attraction, including financial, cost and revenue streams analysis; Feasibility study and options appraisal; A governing instrument for the Peoples Discovery Attraction; Confirmed site and planning permission secured; and Final detailed master plan for the Peoples Discovery Attraction.

Complementary actions Restoration/rehabilitation of 28 100 ha of peatlands (plus 9 900 ha within the project) and 40 000 ha of grasslands in Ireland; Further reductions in GHGs as more peatlands are restored/rehabilitated; Development of the Peoples Discovery Attraction into a self-sustaining business; and Development of the Just Transition Accelerator into a self-sustaining company.

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