In the WaterLANDS project, on-the-ground restoration is taking place at six wetland Action Sites across Europe. The Irish Action Site, led by LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature, is located at the Cuilcagh-Anierin Uplands SAC in Co. Leitrim. Restoration actions began at the Action Site last summer.
Initial works were focused on controlling invasive species on near-natural blanket bog, promoting the improvement of the habitat and the quality of the blanket bog. In order to implement these actions, the Irish team has been working very closely with local farmers over the last year, through open information evenings, workshops and individual farm visits in order to better understand each of the farms across the SAC and find the best solutions.
Currently, 147 farmers have joined the WaterLANDS programme and 83 are included within the restoration plans for 600 hectares of blanket bog. The increased number of farmers participating in the project is thanks to an extra €2 million in funding received from the Shared Island initiative to conduct more restoration works, which increases the capacity of the project and the potential impact of WaterLANDS in the area.
The team has been working with the different stakeholders to design the restoration action plans, a document that contains all the restoration measures for each of the restoration areas, with details about where each action will take place and how it will be implemented. These restoration plans are discussed with the landowners, incorporating their thoughts and ideas and promoting co-creation practices.
Along with the restoration, WaterLANDS team has also implemented an extensive and ambitious integrated research monitoring plan to demonstrate the impacts of restoration across the site. Following the smart indicators approach, the team is installing the equipment to better understand the hydrological integrity, the climate regulation functions and the biodiversity of the site before, during and after restoration with the most important and extensive research experiment on Irish blanket bogs. The information collected will provide scientific evidence of restoration impacts on blanket bog and will help to better understand this rare and unique habitat.
Finally, the team is also working in developing new scorecards to improve the observations and evaluation of the habitats through the Results Based Payment Schemes (RBPS). To learn more about the work of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature and the RPBS approach, visit their website: WildAtlanticNature.ie