12th June 2023

Surveying Peat Depths in the Mournes

Many of us have a mental image of the Mourne Mountains being a robust and rocky landscape. The Mournes are, in fact, an amazing mosaic of some of our most fragile habitats – some of which are badly damaged. We know that historically the Mourne mountains had vast areas of deep peat and large stretches of scrubby woodland.  Over time, human activity has changed the lush mountain landscape to what we see today. If you look at the depth of the big peat hags, you will see clear evidence of just how deep the peat used to be.

Conservation measures have historically focused on the vegetation, but most vegetation needs “something” to grow on.  Wet heath and blanket bog species need wet, deep, peat soils to thrive. The current mapping of peat depths and condition in the Mournes is a bit sketchy.  Thankfully there is a global appreciation of the value of peat soils for climate stability and carbon storage. Our team is playing its part in both surveying peat bogs and wet heath in the Mournes and taking practical action to restore peat soils. We have a particular focus on the Eastern Mournes Special Area of Conservation (SAC). 

What is MHT doing to slow soil erosion and enhance biodiversity in the Mournes? 

Over the coming months and years we will be scientifically surveying peat depth and resurveying habitat and species condition in key locations. We will strive to find funding resources, create an action plan and pilot the restoration approaches (work in the high mountains can present many challenges!).  

What can you do to help? 

  • Limit further damage by sticking to the network of paths, tread lightly and leave no trace 
  • Give up some time and energy to help – data collection/analysis expertise is needed
  • Make a financial donation towards this specialised work


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