This is the second 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’ 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 peatland (which is detailed in the previous post) and second, to develop new connections with nearby secondary schools for real-life ecological restoration learning for transition year students (detailed in this post below)
Peatland Community Engagement with South East Secondary Schools
Following an enthusiastic response from the nearest secondary school to Drummin Bog, 17 Students and two teachers from Duiske College in Graignamanagh visited Drummin Bog on 21 September 2021. On Thursday 11th November, 25 students and two teachers fromand Kilkenny College in Kilkenny visited Drummin Bog in South Carlow. Both groups stayed several hours on Drummin Bog in what is hoped will be the start of valuable onsite peatland outreach learning in the South Carlow area.
Martin Lyttle and Jules Michael, and Brigid O’Regan of the Drummin Bog Committee designed these initial visits to Drummin Bog as a fun, experiential learning introduction to peatland restoration.
Topics included discussions: on the importance of raised bogs; the science of bog restoration, including geology, paleo-archaeology and why hydrology/hydrogeology surveys are a critical first step to assessing the health of the bog through its water levels thereby determining the best position of dams on Drummin Bog for its restoration.); biodiversity awareness through flora and fauna surveys to understand what species are specific and needed for these habitats to thrive; facts on why peatlands are vital contributors to carbon storage and water regulation; and information on why raised bogs to require necessarily urgent preservation and rehabilitation in Ireland and across the world.
Students were shown how data monitors work in the field to measure weather changes and water levels; they were taken to drains and shown drain maps that are helping plan Drummin Bog’srehabilitation as a thriving peatland, and they had hands-on learning about peat sampling to gauge the depth and history of the bog. There was much interest in the previous work by paleo-archaeologists Drs Ben Geary and Rosie Everett, of Wet Futures, who have determined the ancient age of Drummin bog (more news on this soon!). Jules also shared how creative activities have been important to inspire and encourage many different people, children and adults to cherish this unique natural heritage.
These Drummin Bog Secondary School Peatland Days activated valuable “hands-on” real-world ecological learning in a unique environment.
The discussions helped make abstract conservation and sustainability issues real for the students and their teachers. They saw and heard first-hand the value of local actions for the ecological emergency, and gained an appreciation of the broader government policies and efforts by development agencies and stakeholders like LEADER, the local Council Authorities, and the NPWS for peatland conservation and restoration.
All in all, a school day on Drummin bog was a comprehensive and fun day of learning for all the students and visitors. The teachers from both schools shared that Drummin Bog is an exciting – and valuable resource for student learning providing insights about some of the most important topics of our time. The Drummin Bog Committee are delighted that there are plans for further engagement with these high schools.
The Drummin Bog Project Committee wishes to thank Martin Lyttle for the extensive work in developing a successful proposal for NPWS funding, and his work, with community engagement artist Jules Michael and committee member Brigid O’Regan for organising and leading the school visits to Drummin Bog.
Inspired by this work for your area? More details about the NPWS Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme Fund can be found here (note the closing date for 2022 was in February)
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.
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