32 images Created 10 Nov 2011
By the end of 2013, one hundred and thirty bogs in Ireland are due to be closed. The European Union and the Irish Government have ordered the closure of the bogs, designated 'special areas of conservation' (SAC's) as an essential step to preserve the last pristine bogs in Europe. Irish bogs supplies a cheap winter fuel supply for families who hold turbary rights (turf cutting rights) to turf banks, typically 4-5 acres in size. One acre of bog can last a family for three hundred years. Domestic turf cutters say they cut and conserve their bogs, replacing the top layer allowing the bog to regenerate and that they have always respected the natural environment. Most of the damage has come from big companies who made huge profits by providing fuel for power stations and the peat based compost industry. In 1946, the state company Bord Na Mona was set up to extract turf on a commercial basis. Along with more than fifty commercial moss peat extraction companies, they have decimated Ireland's bogs. Only five per cent of bogs are cut by domestic cutters. Mouds bog in Co. Kildare was first recognised as an area of special interest in 1981. Despite this, a 60 hectare area was exploited throughout the 1990's by Bulrush, a commercial peat company based in Northern Ireland. It would have taken thousands of years for domestic turf cutters to cut out the area that Bulrush cut in less than a decade. The turf cutters have been offered compensation of EUR1000 per year for up to fifteen years but they say that this will not cover the cost of buying an alternative source of fuel and falls far short of what the bog is worth. The ban also threatens to end a centuries old cultural tradition. Fifty-three bogs will close by 31st March 2012 but many turf cutters intend to defy the ban and continue to cut turf during the 2012 turf cutting season which traditionally begins after St. Patrick's Day.