A new Irish Wildlife Manual has been published on the habitats of cutover raised bog.
To generate the manual, the cutover habitats of twelve sites were mapped, a classification scheme developed, and habitats of high conservation value identified. The results are based on surveys undertaken as part of The Living Bog project (LIFE14 NAT/IE/000032), an EU LIFE funded project named Restoring Active Raised Bog in Ireland’s SAC Network 2016-20.
The classification was developed using data from 249 relevés undertaken during the surveys in open cutover habitat (excludes woodland and scrub). The classification scheme is divided into four habitat groups defined using the percentage cover of Sphagnum – Low Sphagnum (LS), Moderate Sphagnum (MS), High Sphagnum (HS) and bare peat (BP). These encompass 16 habitat types which are defined using species composition. Affinities with the Irish Vegetation Classification communities and Habitats Directive Annex I habitats were explored and a dichotomous key to aid in assigning habitats is included.
A methodology for assessing whether an area of High Sphagnum habitat corresponds with active raised bog was developed based on numbers of positive indicator species, Sphagnum cover and absence or low levels of negative indicator species. This is the first time that active raised bog has been recognised as occurring on cutover in the Irish context.