Blanket bogs are wild areas that usually form extensive landscapes - they cover mountains and uplands around the country, and lowlands in the west of Ireland. They are formed of peat soils, which build slowly, over thousands of years, in areas where the climate is cool and wet.
In the past, blanket bogs have been used for peat production, livestock grazing and, more recently, growing conifers. Today, blanket bogs are increasingly being recognised for their wilderness quality, and for their value for biodiversity – Irish blanket bogs are among the richest in Europe in terms of their plant and animal life. On the bog, you can find a rich diversity of plant and animal species, including numerous species of moss, lichen, spider and insect as well as larger animal species such as the otter, red grouse and merlin.
Large portions of the Coillte estate consist of conifer forests that were established during the 20th century on deep peats (i.e. former blanket bog and heath habitats). Most of these areas will continue to be managed for timber production. But some of Coillte’s afforested peatlands have retained their former blanket bog characteristics and have the potential to be restored to ecologically valuable peatlands.
Coillte has worked with the EU LIFE Nature programme and with NPWS to restore ecologically valuable blanket bogs that were converted to plantation forests in the past.
For more information, go to Coillte’s blanket bog restoration website.