Connecting communities with peatlands

Just Transition Fund

The Community Wetlands Forum applied for funding from the National Just Transition Fund (JTF) through Irish Rural Link in 2020 to establish a three-year project Connecting Communities with Peatlands. The application was successful, and commenced in mid-2021.

 

What is ‘Just Transition’?

The concept of ‘Just Transition‘ in relation to climate change emerged in the 1990s. It was developed by North American trade unions seeking to provide supports for workers who lost their jobs due to changes to environmental protection policies. 

However, this concept evolved into a plan to invest in transitioning to environmentally and socially sustainable economies and communities. 

‘Just Transition’ was included in the Paris Climate Agreement 2015 and has since incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 8 Decent Work, Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 13 Climate Action, and Goal 1 No Poverty.

“A just transition for all towards an environmentally sustainable economy … needs to be well managed and contribute to the goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty.” – International Labour Organisation

Social dialogue underpins Just Transition. For policies to be successful, employers, governments, workers, and communities need to be in conversation with each other to ensure environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable communities. 

In Ireland, the National Just Transition Fund seeks to provide transitioning supports to communities in the Wider Midlands region affected by the transition from turf cutting and burning to more sustainable practices.

Connecting Communities with Peatlands

The priority of the project is to provide community transitioning supports to community-led groups in the Wider Midlands regions, which includes counties Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Roscommon, North Tipperary, and East Galway.  The project aims to support proactive communications with affected communities and other stakeholders in the region, establish best practice sharing networks, and assist in developing local transition plans.

Connecting Communities with Peatlands will do just that via regional workshops and capacity-building training for groups who wish to establish projects on their local peatlands. Community groups will inform the content of the workshops and training based on their needs.

Members of the Community Wetlands Forum will act as mentors to each other, as more established groups are linked with newer groups to exchange practical knowledge and experience.

A guidebook, Guidelines for Communities Managing Local Wetlands and Peatlands will be published this autumn to provide groups with organisational and funding information, as well as ecological information.

Capitalising on the collective knowledge, experience, and networks of both the CWF and Irish Rural Link, the project will lead to greater engagement and connection with peatlands by communities and result in long-term, sustainable and integrated environmental, social and economic benefits to the region, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

You can read our current edition of the Guidelines here.

To find out more about the project, or if you have any queries, please contact our Community Engagement Officer.

Email: [email protected]

Bad Ecological Condition

Peatlands in bad condition lose carbon at a high rate. Water that flows downstream is of bad quality. The bad water quality will affect fish and is not suitable for human consumption. Peatlands in this condition are home to little wildlife.

Intermediate Ecological Condition

Peatlands in intermediate condition have stopped growing. They release a moderate amount of carbon. The water quality flowing downstream is low. This can affect fish living downstream. These peatlands can have some wildlife, but may not be abundant.

Good Ecological Condition

Peatlands in good condition continue to grow by adding more layers of peat. Carbon is taken up from the atmosphere and stored as peat. The water that flows from such a peatland is usually clear and of good quality. They are home to various wildlife species.