Rewetting Act: Ireland could meet 2030 target by focusing ‘exclusively’ on peat quarries
Ireland could meet its proposed EU land rewetting target for 2030 “by focusing exclusively” on former peat-extracting areas and not on peatlands previously drained for agricultural use, a senior European Commission environment official has said.
However, in a meeting with the Joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice warned Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Biodiversity at DG Environment that a larger area of agricultural peatlands could be subject to legal rewetting between 2030 and 2050 if Ireland opted for it way decides.
The EU official confirmed that no impact assessment has been carried out on how the proposed EU nature restoration law – which says member states must introduce restoration measures on 30 per cent of drained agricultural peatlands by 2030, with a quarter being rewetted, and 50 per cent up 2040, with half being rewetted, and 70 per cent by 2050, with half being rewetted – can impact Ireland’s family farms and rural economy.
It comes as the Housing Department has also confirmed Ireland has not yet submitted its official response to the proposal, as officials say they are “continuing to work with other member states, relevant ministries and stakeholders to study the full implications of the proposed regulation.” “. .
Speaking to committee members, Mr Delgado Rosa said: “For Ireland, wetlands in general, but peatlands in particular, play a crucial role in mitigating climate change as they are the richest ecosystems in terms of carbon sinks.
“From a purely climate policy point of view, it makes a lot of sense to think about rewetting moors in the interest of the climate, regardless of the nature conservation law.
“Rewetting means raising the water table to a level that benefits the environment. There are some larger uses of grassland that can be preserved [in production] even if you rewet – if you rewet all the way, the change is of course more fundamental.
“While what we are proposing for agricultural ecosystems requires some changes in practices, these changes are fully compatible with sustaining agriculture and even benefiting productivity from the perspective of what nature can give back – pollinators, soil nutrients, water etc.
He said there were “many flexibility clauses” on how member states could meet the proposed targets, adding Ireland could meet its 2030 target “entirely from non-agricultural land”.
“One allows for the restoration or rewetting of peatlands, which are plentiful in Ireland, and restoration measures, for example, on other drained peatlands where forests have been planted on drained peatlands.”
When asked by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice how the proposal will affect private property rights in the affected areas, Mr Delgado Rosa replied:
“The [legal] The binding force of this proposal lies with the Member States, not with the private landowners, farmers or others, it is up to the Member States how they deal with it. . . They must follow the goals, but the way they follow them does not encumber the private ownership that needs to be addressed in nature restoration plans.”
The Roscommon-Galway TD countered: ‘They say it will do nothing to encroach on private individuals – can I tell you the Habitats Directive has encroached on every piece of private property in Ireland so we don’t live in a fantasy world where this will not encroach on private property.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/environment/rewetting-law-ireland-could-hit-2030-target-by-exclusive-focus-on-peat-extraction-sites-42315657.html Rewetting Act: Ireland could meet 2030 target by focusing ‘exclusively’ on peat quarries