|Dáire standing in Monivea Bog surrounded by bog cotton|
Michael D. Higgins: Protector of Irish Wildlife & Irish Bogs.
As Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D. Higgins signed, on behalf of the Irish government in 1997, the EU Habitats Directive that requires member states to maintain or restore favourable conservation status for certain habitats and species.
Of particular importance were the Irish bogs which account for 10% of the world’s total. This Habitat Directive was and is vital to protect the small number of bogs that are classified as Natural Heritage Areas. Peatlands possess unique biodiversity as well as being important areas for flood prevention, water quality and as critical storage areas for carbon, up to 57,402 tonnes of carbon per year (EPA BOGLAND project).
Michael D became one of the few Irish government ministers ever to enact legislation to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats and to reverse the millennia old destruction and exploitation by mankind of the planet’s natural heritage.
As a former owner (i.e. guardian) of a bog and as a son of a man whose family lived and worked on the great Bog of Allen for generations, I was so proud of what Michael D as Minister did to protect some of the last remaining bogs of Ireland.