THE Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) is calling on the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, TD to bring turf cutting to a full stop in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs).
All of the active raised bogs in Ireland are protected as SACs or NHAs but as long as turf cutting is taking place they are not being protected.
Over a third of active raised bog has been lost in the last ten years as a direct cause of turf cutting, according to the IPCC.
Studies carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service have proven that turf cutting has a massively destructive impact on raised bogs, which are mounds of earth that support and are retained by turf.
Drainage and turf cutting around the edges of the bog lowers the water level within the bog causing the peat to dry out, which results in the vegetation around the bog dying out and it also prevents the bog from actively forming new peat.
Once turf cutting has been stopped restoration work on the raised bogs can be carried out, including drain blocking to prevent further loss of active raised bog and restoring damaged areas to become active once more.
The IPCC are expressing that it is vital to stop all turf cutting immediately in protected SACs and NHAs to save active raised bogs in Ireland from extinction.
The ban on turf cutting on raised bogs in SACs and NHAs is due to come into effect in the next year.