The questionnaire was also designed for two sets of age groups : age 15- 30 and age 30+ however when I calculated my results I realised that theses two age groups had similar opinions.
I distributed my questionnaire according to the age group, I did not however, Distribute them to any type of job category as I wanted to keep my results simple. I disturbed them to a wide variety of people including students, pensioners, working people etc.. and did not take there job type into consideration which looking at my results.
My results were as follows;
Q1. There is an increase in the need for fuel, housing, energy and agricultural land in Ireland which is contributing to a decrease of peat lands. Nevertheless, because these peat lands are a unique environment we should try to protect them. Please tick.
Strongly agree- 19 Agree- 45 Disagree-1 Strongly disagree- 0
Strongly agree- 14/33 Agree- 27/72 Disagree- 4/5 Strongly disagree- 0
Total = 110 people.
Out of a total of 110 people who answered, in both age groups, 72 people, over 50% , agreed that we should try to protect them because of their unique environment.
33 strongly agreed, only 5 disagreed and 0 people strongly disagreed..
This shows that the majority of all age groups understand the increase in the need for fuel, housing, energy and agricultural land in Ireland. However they also know that this need is contributing to a decrease of peat lands and that they should be protected.
Q2. There are many ways in which our peat lands are being damaged. In your opinion which of the following uses would cause the most damage. 1=most, 5=least damage
Age 15-30 –
Farming = 133 mechanical peat cutting = 88 Planning development = 69
Pollution = 96 Recreation = 124
Age 30+ –
Farming =159 mechanical peat cutting = 85 Planning development = 82
Pollution = 108 Recreation = 121
Lowest number is most damaging to the public = planning development
Highest number is most damaging to the public = farming
Over the to ages the results show that the public view planning development as the most damaging to the peat lands and they view farming as the least damaging.
These results show that the public are aware of the threats against the peat lands. Not only are they taking into consideration farming and planning dev. But they also understand that peat cutting, pollution and recreation are also a threat to these unique environments.
Q3. The designation and protection of sites is just one important measure to ensure the conservation of peat lands. In your opinion which of the following reasons is most important for conservation.
Biodiversity = 85 Cultural=156 Aesthetic= 182 Scientific= 156
Biodiversity = 80 Cultural=107 Aesthetic= 140 Scientific= 123
Both age groups have similar results, the highest number which is Aesthetic shows that the public view this as the least important in conserving the peat lands. In order of importance below 1 being the most important and four being the least important. In accordance to what the pubic think;
The majority of the public have chosen biodiversity to be an area of most importance when it comes to conserving the peat lands.
Q5. Biodiversity of peat lands is acknowledged as being a priority because of three main factors.
1) Rare and threatened species
2) Special Adaptations
3) Fragility and decline of habitat
The biodiversity of peat lands should be conserved. Please tick.
Strongly agree=26 agree=37 Disagree= 0 Strongly disagree=0
Strongly agree=18 Agree=28 Disagree=1 Strongly disagree=0
44 65 1 0
Out of a total of 110 people who answered the questionnaire 109 agreed or strongly agreed that the biodiversity of the peat lands should be conserved. Only one disagreed. I feel this shows that the public of N. Ireland are for conservation of our peat lands and the protection of the plants and animals that live within and around the bogs.
What do these results mean?
As said when stionnaire, it was produced ‘to determine how the public values the biodiversity of the Irish peat lands’
Looking at my results the facts show that the public agree that the peatlands a unique environment which we should try to protect. They view planning development as the most damaging to the peat lands, along with farming, peat cutting, pollution and recreation. They understand that bio-diversity is very important in any environment and it should be conserved in any way possible. The public also take into consideration the conservation of the historic, cultural, scientific and beauty aspect of the peat lands.
The majority of the public in fact almost 100% of my target audience strongly agree that the bio-diversity of the peat lands should be conserved. They acknowledge the bio-diversity as a priority because of the three factors;
1.Rare and threatened species.
2. Special adaptations
3. Fragility and decline of habitat.
For a more extensive survey, I would visit a number of nature reserves over Ireland- north and south, which deal with the conservation of the bio-diversity within their peat lands.
I would cover a wider range of public figures to answer my questions, and a more environmental knowledgeable target audience. Who are for and against conservation, such as farmers or governmental department workers.
I also feel more questionnaire would mean more results and more facts.
With the completion of my questionnaire and the review of my results, I conclude that the majority of the public within N. Ireland value the bio-diversity of the Irish peat lands. However, Although this seems the result. there is not much being done by the public, in fact they cause the most threats to the peat lands. Therefore should the question be how much is the peat lands conservation team doing to create public awareness?
Task Two : Produce a written report on the results gained from the questionnaire.
As a class we produced this questionnaire in order to determine how the general public values the biodiversity of peatlands.
The task covers a range of issues or and values that affect the peatlands of Ireland and Britain.
The primary threats to wetland are:
-drainage for agricultural improvement and peat extraction;
-agricultural improvement by reseeding, over grazing and the use of fertilisers and herbicides;
-conversion to arable;
-quarrying and peat extraction, resulting in land-take, lowered water tables and dust;
-eutrophication of groundwater and surface water;
-residential, industrial and road development
Threats of lesser importance include:
1. scrub encroachment;
3.air pollution, including nitrogen enrichment
4.recreational pressure, including scrambling, riding and walking;
5.inappropriate clearing of rhynes on banks
Such as : Development (housing), pollution, aforestation, farming (overgrazing), peat extraction (fuel), recreation, biodiversity, education, and the cultural/historical values of peatlands.
Peatlands are specialised terrestrial wetland ecosystems, distinguished by annual accumulation of peat. In these systems, production exceeds annual decomposition leading to the build up of partially organic matter or peat. The peat comprosises the remains of plants and animals that grow and live on the peatland surface. Partial decomposition is related to waterlogged, oxygen decient and in some instances nutrient deficient nature of the surface.
Here are some of the most important features of peatland ecosystems:
Annual production exceeds annual decomposition
Annual growth exceeds annual decay
Organic matter is stored annually as accumulated peat
Overtime these annual decaying matter produce peat deposits of considerable depth
Water is retained in peat so that peatlands constitute significant water reserivoirs
Organic matter in peat deposits represents a significant sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide
Peatlands are extensive in cool humid , humid climatic areas and occur widely in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. It has been estimated that there are about 4.5 kilometres of peatland in the world, with deep peat deposits retaining about 400 billion tones of peat (kivinen and pakarinen)
The island of Ireland has a considerable variety of peatlands , many of which are of international importance. They include fens, raised bogs, lowland and upland blanket bogs and several transitional types which together exceed 1.3 million hectares or 16.2% of the country (Hammond 1979)
Although peatlands originally covered more than 17% of the land surface in the ROI, the introduction of large scale, mechanized turf extraction schemes in the 1940,s, afforestation in the 1950,s, intensification of agriculture following Irelands entry into the EEC in 1973 and land reclaimation have seriously depleted the area of peatland suitable for conservation. Today only 166,876ha of the peatland resource of raised bog and blanket bog remains in a relatively intact condition.
Traditional cutting of the bogs by turbary over the last 400 years has had a serious impact on the bogs. 68% of the raised bogs and 46% of the blanket bogs have been cut away by this process (Cross 1990, Hammond 1979). Peat is still being cut privately and the introduction of machinery and a grant aid scheme under the Turf Development Act 1981 has enabled many small scale extraction programmes to get under way each year, resulting in further loss of sites.
The most serious impact of mechanised peat extraction has been on the raised bog accounting for a loss of 22% of the resource in less than 50 years (Cross i950). Today 92% of the area of raised bog has been man modified and lost to conservation. Only 8% of the original peatland area is of conservation importance.
Types of peatland
Peatlands are of two broad types – fens & bogs.
Fens are, to some extent, nutrient rich and relatively fertile, while bogs are acid and nutrient deficient. The distingusing features are outlined below :
Rich fens are generally alkaline and are confined calcareous soil areas.
Poor fens and flushes are relatively acid and are not confined to calcareous regions.
Raised bogs are confined to lowland areas in Ireland, where drainage is impeded. Raised bogs are distributed in the midland area, the lowlying calcareous plain that occupies the central portion of the island. Irish raised bogs are treeless, typically have relatively flat peat domes.
Blanket bogs are confined to oceanic areas, where there is constant high rainfall and no distinctly drain summer season.
In Ireland these atlantic blanket bogs are confined to costal plains and mountain lowlands.
Peatlands have been variously classified, depending on
– morphology (shape)
– mode of development (ontogeny)
– source of nutrients supplied to vegetation on their surface
The importance of bogs and the values of conserving irish peatland
Scientists from many disciplines recognise the importance of raised bogs. Climatologists, archaeologists and biologists value the peat archives in the living bogs as essential to research; and naturalists cherish the living carpet that covers the peat. Raised bogs help to maintain reliable supplies of clean water to rivers. They also have a cultural importance as some of the last true wilderness areas in the lowlands, and are enjoyed by thousands of people. We are only just beginning to understand the ecology of peat bogs and their importance to the global environment.
Bogs and our past
Peat bogs contain an unparalleled record of our past. A rich archive of information lies preserved in bogs. Much of this is organic, and has a capacity to expand our understanding of people, culture, economy and climate far back into prehistory. Pollen, plants, evidence for the use of wood and woodland management, boats, weapons, lines of communication and indications of human
impact on surrounding landscape and ecology all contribute to modern knowledge in ways which are seldom approached on dry land. Peat bogs have produced some of the most spectacular finds of British archaeology, including remarkably well-preserved bodies of some of our ancestors. Peat extraction on an industrial scale -as opposed to more modest, non-mechanical methods ot former times -is a crude and destructive method of discovering theses treasures. The archaeological evidence does not regenerate.
Peatlands and the enviroment
Peat is rich in fossil carbon, removed from the atmosphere by plants and accumulated over thousands of years. Drainage and destruction of raised bogs results in the rapid loss of the stored carbon in the form of greenhouse gases, as the peat decomposes.
Biodiversity is the variety of living things that are found on earth. There is great variation in the biodiversity of different peatland types, for example between fens and bogs. Fens are generally very productive and are home to a wide range of both plants and animals. Bogs on the other hand, have a limited natural diversity due to environmental factors. However, some of the species that thrive there are highly adapted to the harsh conditions.
The biodiversity of peatlands is recognised as being a priority because of three key factors
* rare and threatened species
* special adaptations of species
* fragility and decline of the habitat
Rare and threatened species
Peatlands play an important role in conserving global biodiversity because they are home to some of the rarest species of wetland-dependant plants and animals.
The UK Biodiversity Strategy identified Priority Species that require conservation action because of their rarity, decline, and/or the international importance of their populations. All UK Priority Species are automatically considered as Northern Ireland Priority Species.
In addition, species requiring conservation within Northern Ireland are also given priority status.
Some legislation regarding wildlife of wetland
The wildlife importance of many raised bogs is recognised in their notification as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) or as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in Northern Ireland under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (NI) Order 1985. More recently EC Council Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (79/409/EEC) allows important sites fulfilling specific criteria to be designated as Special Protection Areas (SPA), the EC Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (92/43/EEC) frequently referred to as the Habitat Regulations similarly allows designations as Speacial Areas of Conservation (SAC).
The thin living layer that carpets the bog consists largely of Sphagnum mosses, ranging from brilliant green to ochre red. Unusual plants, such as the sundews, butterworts and bladderworts, supplement their diet in their nutrient-poor environment by catching and digesting insects. This very sterility prevents other, less specialised species from colonising peat bogs, but it is also one of the reasons why bog peat is valued so highly by horticulturists as a growing medium.
Raised bogs are important for the conservation of several rare plants and animals. Some of our rarest insects, including the large heath butterfly, mire pill beetle and several species of dragonflies, thrive in the wet conditions. Plants such as bog rosemary are found nowhere else in the UK. The mossy hummocks and pools provide vital nesting and feeding grounds for wading birds. These birds depend on Europe’s disappearing wetlands.
The overall mixture of plants and animals make raised bogs unique and valuable places. They become islands of typically upland species in lowland areas. Breeding birds such as the teal, golden plover and dunlin are usually found only in the far north, but on some raised bogs they can be found alongside more southerly species such as the nightjar.
Peatlands are a type of wetland and are valued for their capacity to store, filter and provide water. Wetlands, including peatlands, also provide a habitat for a range of plant and animal species. Peatlands are often described as ‘sponges’ because in their natural state they typically contain 85-95% water.
The impact peatlands have on the movement of water in a locality can be very significant. Storing water in peatlands may become even more important in the future if predicted climate changes, including increased rainfall in Western Europe, occur.
The runoff of rainfall from upland bogs is an important source of much of our drinking water. Reservoirs that drain areas of blanket bog on the Garron Plateau, the Sperrin Mountains and Mourne Mountains provide much of our drinking water in Northern Ireland.
The volume and quality of the water that drains from upland bogs can be severely affected by activities on the bog. For example machine cutting of turf on Cuilcagh mountain had an adverse effect on the Marble Arch Caves system.
Peatlands can also have a significant impact on water quality, as excess nutrients in groundwater can be stored or transformed. Groundwater entering fens often drain large catchments and so may contain nutrients from a range of sources including fertiliser from surrounding farmland. The fen vegetation can also bind and filter sediments, which improves water quality.
The importance of peatlands as a habitat for wetland species has been globally recognised in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, commonly known as the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention was one of the first global intergovernmental treaties on conservation and wise use of natural resources.
The UK signed and ratified the Convention and is therefore committed to the designation and conservation of wetland sites. In Northern Ireland 9 of the 15 designated Ramsar sites are peatland sites.
Peatlands are a major feature of the Irish landscape and culture, and an intrinsic part of the scenary so prized by visiting tourists.
Task three : research the practical conservation schemes that are operating with regards to irish peatlands in Ireland. Write a critique of the range of schemes with regards to the extent to which the practical measures meets its aims and objectives.
Irish Peatland Conservation Council
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s mission is to conserve a representative sample of the bogs of Ireland for future generations to enjoy. The IPCC is an independent conservation charity entirely supported by voluntary contributions.
Area of Work:
Conservation projects include: purchasing bogland nature reserves, providing resources and training for teachers and education groups, repairing damaged bogs, fostering a positive attitude towards bogs, and encouraging lifestyles in harmony with the environment.
The IPCC is Irelands largest charitable non governmental organization dedicated to to conserving bogs and raising public self awarness of their unique natural heritage value.
The ipcc was founded in 1982 to ensure that a representative sample of 50,000ha of peatland is conserved for the common good. The ipcc work is supported by subscribers and supporters. The work of the ipcc is undertaken by full time staff and volunteers and is approved by a committee of management which includes executive members and patrons.
The work of the council is divided broadly between into two roles , conserving peatland habitats and their unique wildlife and informing and educating the public. Specific areas of work undertaken by the council are elaborated on below.
The ipcc is conserving peatlands of national and international importance by direct purchase, convincing landowners of the need to conserve their peatlands, and by lobbying government and national and international with an interest in peatlands.
Peatland conservation programme
The ipcc has formulated an action plan for irish peatland protection and has raised national and international concern for the need to conserve irish bogs in government industry and amoung the general public.
Threats to peatlands and their unique wildlife from development proposals and land use practices are debated and publicized. The ipcc also puts the conservation case to local authorities and government.
The ipcc closely works with schools and the department of education in the provision of resource materials and education packs designed to meet requirements of school curricula. They organize training courses for teachers and youth leaders, excursions and exhibitions to raise awareness.
An up to date list of peatlands of scientific and archaeological importance has been complied and is updated by the ipcc. This is used for developing and implementing site protection strategies, monitoring site damage and evaluating the status of the conservation worthy peatland in Ireland.
The ipcc publishes its owns leaflets and magazines also books, reports, posters, videos as well as display and education materials focusing on bogs, their conservation, education and wildlife value.
Lectures, exhibitions, workcamps, conferences, holidays, field trips all run by ipcc.
The ipcc works closely with international agencies including the dutch foundation for the conservation of irish bogs, the UK and NI peatlands campaign consortium and the international mire conservation group.
The ipcc gain regular income from supporters, appeals, donations and grants all in order to raise funds to purchase important bogs, they also sell symbolic shares in an irish bog
UK Peatlands Consortium
The Consortium organised a major peatland campaign throughout the UK, the primary aims of which were
-the development and implementation of a UK strategy for the conservation of peatlands
-he development of peat alternative to replace peat in gardening and horticulture
-he protection of UK peatlands of nature conservation importance
-the review of all UK planning consents for UK peat extraction
-he rehabilitation of UK peatlands.
The response to the UK Peatlands Campaign have been variable with greater success in some areas e.g. the protection of sites, than others e.g. a reduction in the use of horticultural peat. The UK Government responses to the campaign included a review of peat extraction and the development of a Mineral Planning Policy specifically for peat, reduction or elimination of peat use at Government sites, and finance for peatland research. Government in Northern Ireland also produced an innovative which outlined the measures that would be taken by all Government Departments to conserve peatlands. For further information about the Peatlands Consortium please write to Peatlands Campaign Consortium.
The IPCC was established with the principle aim of ensuring the conservation of a representative example of Ireland’s peatland heritage. IPCC launched the Save the Bogs Campaign in 1982 and it is one of the longest running campaigns in Ireland. The Campaign has focused its attention on three main areas:
* Site Protection
* Information and Education
* Fund-raising and lobbying
Like the UK campaign there has been some success in certain areas e.g. the area of protected peatlands in Ireland has gone from just a few hundred hectares in 1980 to over 140,000 ha. The IPCC have also published a wide range of educational materials and conservation plans for peatlands in Ireland.
Undoubtedly both the UK Peatlands Campaign, and the Save the Bogs Campaign have played a major role in raising public awareness and contributed to increased measures to protect and conserve peatlands in the UK and Ireland.
Despite the many improvements in peatland conservation during the last 20 years a major disappointment has been the continued use of peat, in the gardening and horticulture industries. Present and future campaigns will need to address this use of peat, which is leading to the destruction of peatlands across Europe.
Peatland Campaigns are not always organised by large conservation organisations but can also be as a result of action by local communities.
Irelands peatlands are scientifically interesting and educationally important. When there is effective protection for a representative selection the three major types (fens, raised bogs, and blanket bogss) these conservation areas will be a resource that will continue to provide sites for scientific study and for educational purposes. As a major component of the islands remaining wild landscape, these peatlands will provide a great source of pride and aesthetic pleasure for generations to come and for visitors from across the world.