Bogs are areas of peatland which contain peat – a type of soil that contains a high amount of dead organic matter, usually plants, that have accumulated for many years.
Types of bog present in Northern Ireland
There are currently two types of bog present in Northern Ireland:
Lowland raised bog
Lowland raised bogs are peatlands, which develop primarily in lowland areas such as valleys and river plains. Peat depths are variable, but can exceed 12 metres.
These are peatlands which can cloak entire landscapes, even developing on slopes of up to 30o. Peat depths are variable but tend to not be as deep as that associated with lowland raised bogs.
Did you Know? It takes 1,000 years for 1 metre of peat to form!
The conservation of peatlands is important for biodiversity, archaeology, carbon and water storage, and peatland restoration is a really important nature based solution to address the climate and biodiversity crises.
Peatlands are sensitive habitats and provide a haven for vast amounts of wildlife, including butterflies, mosses and amphibians; therefore, it is important that action is taken to protect them.
International Bog Day takes place annually on the 4th Sunday in July, which provides an opportunity to celebrate bogs and raise awareness of peatlands, including the benefits they provide and the threats they face.
Why are Peatlands under Pressure?
Peatlands have been severely overexploited and damaged in the past. In Northern Ireland, peatlands have been drained and converted for agricultural use. They are also often burned and mined for fuel, causing huge amounts of carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere. Peat is also still used in many compost brands, causing peatlands to be destroyed unnecessarily.
In Northern Ireland, a number of measures including government policy, legislation, protected sites and education are currently utilised as part of a strategy for the protection and conservation of peatlands.
Peatland is the only habitat for which government has produced a policy statement in Northern Ireland.
Some peatland sites are designated and legally protected as a result of European, national and local legislation.
The government has also announced that the sale of products containing peat to householders will be banned from 2024.