Council lead World Wetlands Day celebration at Peatlands Park

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Climate change, water quality and biodiversity were the focus of last week’s World Wetlands Day events held at Peatlands Park near Maghery.

Officers at Armagh Banbridge & Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council organised two events at the park to mark the global awareness campaign and welcomed dozens of pupils from four schools in the borough, as well as local volunteers.

On Friday 2 February, representatives from Ulster Wildlife, The National Trust, The NI Environment Agency came together with ecologists and council officers to guide pupils around at the fascinating bogs at Peatlands Park which were once harvested on an industrial scale.

Conservation volunteers also played their part on Saturday, when they helped remove invasive Rhododendron plants.

Peatlands are one of the most valuable eco-systems on earth, and are vital to the health of our wider environment. While supporting a diverse range of animals and plants, they are among the most efficient for storing carbon, as well as providing the natural purification of our water.

Over recent years ABC Council has been working closely with DAERA and Ulster Wildlife to restore the bogs at Peatlands Park, through a number of measures including the control of invasive species and blocking ditches for retaining water.

Marcus Malley, Biodiversity Manager at ABC Council, said the ongoing work was an important example of the local practical steps which can be taken to protect the environment and the planet.

“Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss can seem like a daunting challenge at a local level. But recent work to restore bogs at Peatlands Park, which will help capture more carbon, filter water and, shows the important role we can play,” he said.

“As a council, we are committed to restoring and protecting our wetlands and there are more plans in the pipeline to expand this work in the future. We all have to play our part in tackling this global crisis and restoring and protecting our wetland habitats and wildlife is a very effective way of doing that.”

Rosemary Millar, Education and Conservation Officer at ABC Council said: “The importance of our wetlands in tackling climate change and biodiversity has become increasingly apparent in recent years, and as a council we want to raise and grow this awareness by celebrating World Wetlands Day each year.

“We are very fortunate and privileged to have a site like Peatlands Park within our council boundaries which also delivers important physical and mental wellbeing benefits to the many visitors who use the site on a regular basis.

“Peatlands Park is also an ideal educational resource for our younger generations and it plays a vital role in demonstrating the huge benefits which our wetlands provide.”

To find out more about ABC Council’s conservation projects, please visit the Oxford Island Facebook page.