Bord na Móna
was established over 75 years ago in Ireland as the Irish Turf Board, Móna
being the Irish word for turf. Initially peat production was largely for fuel (turf) in the 1940s and 1950s, and this subsequently evolved to include production of peat for energy generation and horticulture. Currently the company has developed a diverse portfolio with a range of environmental, resource recovery, renewable energy, peat production and retail businesses. Milled peat production will remain a core business, however, for some time. Milling is essentially a form of open cast mining which relies on drainage of the peatland and solar drying of the surface layer of bare peat. Harvesting of peat is carried out over a range of peatland sites largely across the Midlands of Ireland. The peatland resource held by the company covers over 75,000ha with more than 2/3 of this area involved in active peat production currently.
Peat production is carried out under Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) Licenses issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland. These licenses set the boundary limits in terms of potential emissions to air, water, noise and general environmental management systems for all worked bog areas, drainage and infrastructures, workshops and work centres.
As part of its IPPC licenses Bord na Móna is required to rehabilitate all former peat production areas once peat production activities cease. This is to ensure that bare peat areas are environmentally stabilised, largely achieved through revegetation and other targeted rehabilitation measures. There are well established demonstration sites showing the main rehabilitation measures for industrial cutaway bog within the Bord na Móna bog network. These include the Lough Boora Parklands
in County Offaly and the Oweninny Bogs in County Mayo. At both of these sites there has been extensive research carried out on different types of commercial reclamation post peat production (forestry and agriculture) as well as less commercial natural outcomes (wetlands, woodlands and semi-natural grassland).
In 2010 and 2011 Bord na Móna launched two relevant documents detailing how former peat production lands will be rehabilitated:
The Bord na Móna Strategic Framework for the Future Use of Cutaway Bogs (2011) includes an overview of potential commercial after-uses such as wind farms and industrial units.
The Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2015 (2010) is an important document for the company as it sets out clear aims and objectives as well as the actions required ensuring that biodiversity hotspots across the Bord na Móna land bank are identified and managed for nature conservation and that all other former production areas are rehabilitated in an environmentally stable way. The document along with the annual public review sessions is an effective way of communicating with a range of stakeholders and consultees including statutory bodies, ENGOs and local communities.
Research is also funded by Bord na Móna into the effects of different rehabilitation measures of former industrial peatlands on greenhouse gas emissions. This work is carried out in collaboration with universities and independent consultants.