Garron Peatland Restoration

Peatland restoration on Garron Plateau, County Antrim.

9,000 t
Est. annual reduction in carbon
emissions (tonnes CO2 eq)

Our story

by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

As part of the Co-operation Across Borders Project (CABB), we've delivered peatland restoration works that are already having a positive impact on 500ha of blanket bog on the Garron Plateau SAC in Northern Ireland. Works delivered to block drains across the blanket bog will hold more water on the bog, keep the peat wet thus sequestering carbon, prevent conifer regeneration, safeguard threatened species and help filter organic carbon from the water reaching water treatment works.

We have operated an ecosystem services approach and have sequestered carbon, improved the status of the designated site, improved biodiversity and created conditions that will hopefully lead to reduced water treatment costs.

Our advice

The appropriate management of this landscape is crucial in delivering these multiple benefits, but it has not always been this way. Previous land management had served to degrade the unique landscape compromising the provision of essential ecosystem services.

Peatland restoration should be viewed as a key investment priority given the potential to create green jobs, tackle climate change, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and prevent flooding. We commissioned a report which shows the huge economic value of restoring peat. From a carbon perspective alone, restoring the site's hydrology helps avoid around 9000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year which equates to about £0.6million per year from those avoided emissions. If the restoration work was expanded across the whole of the Garron plateau this value could rise to £1.2million per year. The research also showed that the restoration on Garron Plateau provides £4 of public benefits for every £1 invested, mainly due to avoided emissions and flood mitigation.

Avoided carbon emissions aren't the only benefit that the restoration is providing. We have also huge benefits for water quality, as well as key protected and endangered species such as merlin, hen harrier and curlew.

If we are to realise the ambition of creating a nature positive world by 2030, peatlands must be a key investment priority. The scale of funding and policy ambition must match the scale of the crisis. The economic case for investing in nature-based solutions, such as peatland restoration is clear. We now need sufficient investment to scale up this kind of work across Northern Ireland. Peatland restoration is a low cost, high gain intervention that is essential if we are to go high nature, low carbon and achieve a nature positive world.

Our metrics

  • Number of built dams to block drains and ditches across the catchment (1000).
  • Amount of carbon sequestered.
  • Savings in water treatment costs.

Read more: https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/at-home-and-abroad/northern-ireland/policyinnorthernireland/valuing-our-peatlands/

Drain blocking on the Garron Plateau - before.
Drain blocking on the Garron Plateau - after.
Excavation.
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