Discovery of a newly formed Irish bog

Tullaher Main

A recent study carried out to determine the value of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones in undertaking habitat surveys of inaccessible wetland areas made an unexpected discovery. The traditional view of bog formation is that it occurs over a very long time frame of centuries or even millennia. The outcome of a recent survey by Wetland Surveys Ireland Ltd (WSI) suggests that a west of Ireland bog has evolved from an open water lake to an actively growing peat bog within the last 150 years.

Tullaher Lough in County Clare was the subject of the study undertaken by WSI on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The lake and its fringing wetlands form part of a Special Area of Conservation designated under the EU Habitats Directive. Despite the recognised value of the wetland, the habitats have not been subject to any intensive investigation, due in part to their inaccessible nature.

Tullaher vertical

Interpretation of drone imagery collected during the winter 2017 survey clearly shows that bog vegetation has established in the area to the west of the lake. Bog Cotton and red bog moss (appear as bright red), Heather (dark brown), other Sphagnum mosses (bright green), and bushy lichens (patchy light grey) are all clearly visible (see opposite). An ecological walkover survey subsequently confirmed that the habitat throughout the area corresponds to acid bog, with a high water table, undulating topography, and a dominance of typical bog species.

A review of historic mapping reveals that this area of bog has established since the mid-nineteenth century when the open water of the lake extended westwards (see below). The lake shore at that time was to the west of the current bog area.

Tullaher comparison

A similar pattern of terrestrialisation and establishment of bog conditions over a comparable timeframe has previously been documented at Clara Bog, County Offaly in a PhD study undertaken by Patrick Crushell of WSI. Such rapid establishment of bog has also been reported by Dutch researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Understanding the processes responsible for the development of bog habitat over a relatively short timeframe has important implications for bog restoration programmes and climate change mitigation. To this end, WSI intends furthering the research into this unique wetland area by supporting a research student to investigate the development history of the site in more detail.

Wetlands in County Dublin

As part of World Wetlands Day which this year celebrates Urban wetlands making cities liveable, the project to map Ireland's wetlands – the Map of Irish Wetlands - has published a revised Dublin city and county wetland map. The new on-line map has been uploaded and can be viewed on the Google map platform through the Wetland Surveys Ireland website. Some 67 of the wetlands shown are open to the public and have visitor access, so why not get out there and explore one of these great wetlands during World Wetlands Day

A variety of additional information, site descriptions and photographic images for the wetlands in Dublin city and county are shown on the new wetland map.а

Here are some facts about the new county Dublin Wetland Map:

  • The location of 173 wetland sites are shown in County Dublin.
  • Detailed wetland habitat surveys have been undertaken on 46 of these sites.
  • 119 of the sites include a lake or pond as the main wetland habitat present, making this the most frequent wetland habitat type to be found in County Dublin. The second most common habitat type is reedswamp which occurs on 77 sites.
  • 116 sites on the Dublin wetland map display a photograph of the wetland.
  • 136 wetland sites include a short description about the wetland interest on the site.
  • All wetland sites listed in Dublin display information on the wetland habitats that are known or likely to occur there.
  • 67 wetlands occur within parks or are accessible to the public are listed as such, while 22 other wetland sites occur in golf courses with private members access.

To explore the map and obtain further information on the Map of Irish Wetlands project during World Wetlands Day please check out this link.

During 2018 we hope to further refine and expand the information on wetlands displayed on the Map of Irish Wetlands, in County Dublin and throughout the rest of the country, and welcome information you might have on a site or a photograph for one of the wetlands shown on the map. а

The Wetland Surveys Ireland Team hope you enjoy your tour and visit to the wetland of your choice !

The online map is available to view on WetlandSurveysIreland.comаа


ай Website design Peter Foss 2012