100m tonne carbon store secured by Bord na Móna under major Peatland Restoration Plan.

Bord na Móna has launched a Peatland Restoration Plan of international significance on its land in Ireland. The plan will harness the natural power of peatlands to secure a store of over 100m tonnes of carbon in perpetuity and capture millions of tonnes more in the coming years.

The announcement underscores the company’s leading role in helping deliver a carbon neutral country by 2050.

“We believe there are huge opportunities for everyone in society as we deal with the climate emergency”

The plan was launched as the Government committed up to €108m of new climate action funding in addition to €18m from Bord na Móna for peatland restoration and rehabilitation measures. The announcement means peatlands restoration on company and third-party lands is now a core business activity for Bord na Móna. 

Just Transition in action

Beautiful boglands in Mayo, Ireland.

“Bog rehabilitation and remediation is a wonderful example of Just Transition in action, where workers who previously harvested peat for power generation will now be the custodians of our bogs,” said the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD.

“This project will turn carbon sources into sinks, restore biodiversity and help us meet our climate goals. Employing 350 people, it will also be a pilot project for the just transition we need to make as we adapt our society and economy to tackle climate change.

“It is also a clear demonstration of the exciting new direction Bord Na Móna is taking and an endorsement by government of the company’s Brown to Green strategy. It’s also an investment in the workforce of Bord Na Móna and the midlands area itself where Bord Na Móna are an inherent part of the region’s fabric.”

Among a range of initiatives, the Peatlands Restoration Plan will immediately focus on 80,000 acres of Bord na Móna bogs. It will aim to protect the 109m tonne carbon store in these bogs and sequester a further 3.2m tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs). This will simultaneously recreate native habitats, rich in biodiversity and cultural significance.

The new operations will immediately create 310 operational, engineering and technical jobs. Most of the new roles will be taken up by employees who were until recently employed in peat harvesting activities. Bord na Móna is already rehabilitating peatlands beyond its own landholding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service and intends to expand these operations on third party lands in the coming decade.  Last year, the Government approved Climate Action funding for the restoration of other peatlands in Ireland. The announcement demonstrates the business opportunities for the company as it takes a new leadership role on climate action.

The launch of the new peatlands plan follows Bord na Móna’s recently announced plans to raise €1.6billion in market funding for its renewable energy development programme.

“This is a major win for Ireland’s progress on Climate Action. Peatlands only cover 3pc of the Earth’s surface but hold 30pc of all the Carbon stored on land,” said Tom Donnellan, CEO of Bord na Móna.

“They have a unique natural power to capture carbon and deliver significant wins for us and for future generations. Bord na Móna’s new Peatlands Restoration Plan will work with nature to make this happen and will demonstrate its leadership role in climate action, delivering on government policy and national decarbonisation objectives.

“This significant investment in the restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands will quickly yield a range of rich benefits for society. Where once peat was harvested, Bord na Móna will now take meaningful action to keep over one hundred million tonnes of carbon in the ground, capture millions more tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, and create rich and diverse habitats for our native plant and animal species.

“We believe there are huge opportunities for everyone in society as we deal with the climate emergency and we are looking forward to sharing the benefits of this process with people across Ireland,” Donnellan said.

Main image at top (from left): Tom Donnelly, Bord na Móna CEO; Kieran Mulvey, Just Transition Commissioner; and Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 24 November, 2020

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