International Bog Day 2022

July 25, 2022

The Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre

The event, which took place in celebration of International Bog Day on the 24th of July, started out warm and humid with the clouds over the Cuilcagh Mountains looking heavy with rain. A team of Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark Guides met at the fantastic Marble Arch Caves visitor centre where we met our host Barney (Cuilcagh to Cleanish partnership memory map) and Roisin (Ulster Wildlife) for a briefing and tour of the Cuilcagh Anierin Mountains CANN (Collaborative Action for the Natura Network) project site.

 

 

The view is stunning even when obscured by clouds and mist.

As we headed up the bog, one of the local land owners and farmers regaled us with stories of the history of the land and how his forebears lived and worked in this beautiful but challenging environment. All the while, the mist turned to  rain which then began to fall steadily, as if to add drama to the stories (not that they needed any embellishment). The views, or at least those that we could catch a glimpse of, were spectacular and on a clear day would take your breath away, as would the exertion from the walk.

 

 

Visiting a section of preserved bog land, Roisin took us through the restoration project to improve the natural heritage in the Cuilcagh Anierin Uplands Special Area of Conservation.  Through hard work and dedication from the land owners and farmers, we saw how the areas of once dry and degrading bog have started to flourish with the re-wetting and restoration actions taken. The use of natural (coconut husk) coir logs to slow the flow of water has allowed key species such as sphagnum mosses to take hold and regenerate the peat. The knock on effects resulting from stabilizing the landscape of increasing biodiversity as well as to water quality is also fantastic to hear about and provides such inspiration.

 

A section of bog where the eroded portions of bog have been stabilized.

Whilst the current part of the project comes to an end and the discussion turns to legacy actions, ongoing monitoring (see photograph below) of the site will help to ensure that this habitat can benefit from the works already done, to hopefully ascertain what else can be done here and in other bogs. The habitat restoration will provide a valuable resource for visitors as well as the wildlife. Hopefully, there will be opportunities for citizen scientists to get involved soon and the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark Guides will be only too pleased to run guided tours in this truly special area.

The use of fixed point photographic monitoring is one way to quickly visualize any changes to a site. Additional survey methods are also employed for detailed monitoring.

We may have been soaked through by the time we turned and headed back down to the visitor centre but the smile on our faces at least stretched from ear to ear. During our descent we repeatedly crossed paths with a hardy groups of people of all ages on a day out and some on a charity walk. The next time you come along to the Cavan Adventure Centre and paddle along the Lough Oughter Waterways here in Cavan, you may want to visit the Marble Arch Caves, Cuilcagh Mountains, Boardwalk Trail and SAC as well.

 

 

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