FIE have
published their 2012 Report, ‘DEFENDING IRELAND’S PROTECTED RAISED BOGS FROM
ILLEGAL EXTRACTION’, showing that at least a third of Ireland’s 53 active
raised bog Natura 2000 sites have been mechanically cut so far this year.
17 of the 22 protected raised bogs surveyed from the air last week by
Friends of the Irish Environment have been cut this year. FIE’s 2012 survey
includes more than 500 online photographs with precise locations tagged.


‘The
government’s enforcement strategy is an abject failure. The State authorities
seem unequal to the task of protecting what, in relative terms, is a tiny
number of bogs. The European Commission’s softly–softly approach is failing to
protect some of Europe’s most important and
most threatened natural heritage areas. Ireland’s behaviour represents a
direct challenge to the rule of law in the EU.’


READ THE REPORT  |  VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHS    |  FIRST MEDIA COVERAGE


 


 


PRESS
RELEASE


FRIENDS OF
THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT


3 JUNE
2012


WIDESPREAD
ILLEGAL TURF CUTTING


FRIENDS OF
THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT RELEASES HUNDREDS OF PHOTOS OF ILLEGAL TURF CUTTING AND
FULL AERIAL SURVEY REPORT


Friends of
the Irish Environment [FIE] have published their 2012 Report, ‘DEFENDING
IRELAND’S PROTECTED RAISED BOGS FROM ILLEGAL EXTRACTION’, showing that at least
a third of Ireland’s 53 active raised bog Natura 2000 sites have been
mechanically cut so far this year. 17 of the 22 protected
raised bogs surveyed from the air last week by FIE have been recently cut.


FIE says
the actual figure is likely to be even higher, as less than half of the 53
protected bogs were covered by their aerial survey. Other bogs, such as
Minister Deenihan’s family bog Moanveanlagh in County
Kerry and Coolrain bog in County Laois,
are also reported recently cut. The Government has consistently
refused to release its own monitoring data to FIE.


‘Tellingly
for Ireland’s
enforcement strategy, over the past month there has been a rapid rise in the
number of protected bogs cut. On 1 May 2012 Minister Deenihan told the Dail
that “To date, there has been one significant incidence of cutting on one
protected bog, with more minor incidences on four others.” Only four weeks later
the number of sites has almost quadrupled,
some of them extensively cut. Even worse, 8 of the 17 sites we found cut this
year have in the past received EU LIFE funding for bog restoration.’


The Report
alleges that ‘The government’s enforcement strategy is an abject failure. The
State authorities seem unequal to the task of protecting what, in relative
terms, is a tiny number of bogs. The European Commission’s softly–softly
approach is failing to protect some of Europe’s
most important and most threatened natural heritage areas. Ireland’s
behaviour represents a direct challenge to the rule of law in the EU.’


FIE says
the survey demonstrates that enforcement is significantly deficient and that
the damage is ongoing and widespread, in spite of repeated threats by the
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) under the Habitats Directive and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Environmental Liability
Directive.


‘Even the
threat of withholding Single Farm Payments must be weighed against the Department’s
failure to ensure that all landowners and cutters have been identified. Illegal
cutters are refusing to give their names and addresses to Gardai who are
failing to address this obstruction of justice.


‘One
effective method of enforcement would be to confiscate machinery cutting
illegally on the bogs. The Dail passed legislation in 2011 giving this power to
authorised officers but it has not been used. Another option would be civil
injunctions against named individuals which would make any further cutting –
this year or subsequently – contempt of court.’


‘Not only
do these activities threaten the very survival of our best bogs – Ireland’s own
rainforests – but the extraction of turf on what is a commercial scale (despite
the ‘domestic’ image) damages a wide variety of wildlife, pollutes our drinking
water, and has substantial climate change impacts.’


FIE’s 2012
survey includes more than 500 photographs with precise locations tagged online.
It was funded by the Patagonia Environmental Grants Fund of the Tides
Foundation, which was established to assist grassroots
groups that support efforts which force governments to abide by their
own environmental laws.


READ THE REPORT  |   VIEW THE ALBUM


 


Aerial photographs from the survey and report may be
reproduced free of charge, provided photographs are attributed to Friends of
the Irish Environment. email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Verification and comment: Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087
2176316


Irish language: Daithí Ó hÉalaithe 087 6178852


NOTES


In their 2006 Report, “Assessment of impacts of turf
cutting on designated raised bogs”, Valverde et al. record “the reduction in
the original raised bog area [in Ireland] from 311,000ha to [the]
current area of around 18,000ha [a reduction of over 94%].” Ireland’s 2007
Article 17 report to the European Commission under the Habitats Directive
recorded a further decrease of 36% in active raised bog extent from 1994–2005.
Most recently, Ireland’s 4th
National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, released in May
2010, stated that “It is estimated that there has been a 99% loss of the
original area of actively growing raised bog in Ireland, and one–third of the
remaining 1% has been lost in the last 10 years.”



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