This is the first of two posts about how the 2021 NPWS Community Engagement Scheme Award extended activities to fulfil the aims of the Drummin Bog Project
Last year, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Drummin Bog Project committee members, past Chair Martin Lyttle (a former geotechnical engineer) and Creative Drummin Engagement Artist, Jules Michael, with the support of the Drummin Bog committee, worked to develop a successful proposal for the 2021 NPWS (Irish National Park and Wildlife Service) ‘Peatlands Community Engagement SCHEME’ Award.
This NPWS award funded two important activities for the Drummin Bog Project:
first, TO FUND INITIAL ACTIVITIES TO HELP REWET DRUMMIN BOG, A CRUCIAL ACTIVITY TO RESTORE IT AS A THRIVING, ACTIVE PEATLAND (WHICH IS DETAILED IN THIS POST BELOW),
and second, TO DEVELOP NEW CONNECTIONS WITH NEARBY SECONDARY SCHOOLS FOR REAL-LIFE ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION LEARNING FOR TRANSITION YEAR STUDENTS (SEE THE PREVIOUS POST)
A major step to restoring Drummin Bog
The Drummin Bog Project committee are delighted to share, following significant support from Carlow LEADER to undertake baseline scientific and ecological surveys (2020-2021; see all the LEADER data here ), that physical steps to rewet Drummin bog were supported by a 2021 NPWS Peatland Community Engagement Scheme Fund.
Weather Station upgrade
Specifically, the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme Award supported the Drummin Bog Committee to enable the repair and upgrade of the weather station located adjacent to the site, the installation and monitoring of monitoring points and the installation of peat dams to block the drains on the bog.
The majority of the work was undertaken by hydrogeologist James Lalor (who previously conducted the extensive 2020 LEADER-supported hydrogeological survey), and Engineering Geologist Martin Lyttle (involved in the LEADER-supported preliminary core peat sampling of Drummin Bog) , with support from other members of the Drummin Bog Project committee. Also involved in work on the drain blocking was Mick Wright of BirdWatch Ireland.
Weather Stations and ‘What3words’ App monitor water flow to plan Drummin Bog re-wetting
After a cold spell in January 2021, it was discovered the weather station for Drummin Bog was not functioning. It was concluded that the battery had lost its charge during the cold period months. As the weather station is a key part of the monitoring of the Drummin Bog: it is an important means to share peatland water flow knowledge to bog visitors as well as identifying sites for drain-blocking to rewet and activate Drummin Bog to again become a raised bog, some of the NPWS funds supported a more durable weather station and 40W solar panels.
The solar panels were installed by Martin Lyttle and James Lalor on 19th May 2021 with a deep cell super-cycle battery (15Ah) installed on 20 June 2021.
To assist the important stage in planning for drain-blocking to help restore Drummin bog by retaining water in the bog, James and Martin also decided to use the ‘What3words’ app as a marking and navigational tool instead of a GPS. This is an app that can be used on any smartphone. It was felt that all could access this and would be a great engagement tool for visitors to the bog (which was demonstrated to Transition Year students for the other part of this NPWs award).
Hydrology – Waterflow Monitoring Across Drummin Bog
Following the previous hydrology survey of Drummin Bog, 6 drain sites were identified to be blocked and were monitored over 2021 by hydrogeologist James Lawlor. The water levels were compared with the weather station results.
This data enabled James and Martin Lyttle to plan the drainage blocking plan for Drummin Bog as in the diagrams below:
Drain-blocking to rewet Drummin Bog
A 15-tonne excavator was hired to undertake the drain-blocking works. The machine was a little larger than envisaged, but useful as the excavator also had a large tree cutting attachment which was used to clear the access into the bog and along the main periphery drain. The excavator was from a local plant hire company and the excavator driver worked with James Lalor and Martin Lyttle.
The method outlined in the NPWS Guidance Notes on Best practice in raised bog
restoration in Ireland (2017)was generally followed where possible. As Drummin Bog is highly degraded, dry and tree covered in some places, cleaning out drains and acquiring highly humified peat was difficult in places. The What3words app was used to set out and record drain dam locations.
Additional monitoring points were installed in various locations after the peat dams had been installed. Data-loggers were installed in some of these.
Monitoring of all installations will be undertaken by James Lalor into the future and he will analyse the data to see if the drain blocking is working. We are excited to think what increased water-holding capacity will do to help restore Drummin bog – future posts on the effect of the drain-blocking will be reported.
The Drummin Bog Project Committee wishes to thank James Lalor for the monitoring and drainage hydrogeological expertise, and Martin Lyttle for the extensive work in developing a successful proposal for NPWS funding, with community engagement artist Jules Michael. Grateful thanks also to Mick Wright of BirdWatch Ireland and the support of other members of the Drummin Bog Committee.
Inspired by this work for your area?
More details about the NPWS Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme Fund can be found here (note there is a rolling application date for this scheme)
PLEASE NOTE: Access to Drummin Bog is limited due to the sensitive nature of the habitat and its status as a wildlife reserve. Great precaution must be taken in visiting the bog due to its unmarked deep drains, and other hazards. It is therefore recommended people do not walk on the bog alone. Children must always be supervised and no dogs please as efforts are in place to encourage birds to return. Thank you for understanding. In time, a woodland walkway is envisaged. The Drummin Bog Project is in its very early stages.