EU climate-smart rewilding project planned for Galway
Blanket bog site one of eight selected across the bloc for €8.5m wildE project
A new project funded by Horizon Europe called wildE has been launched to develop climate-smart rewilding as a nature-based solution to the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss in eight sites across Europe.
The Irish rewilding initiative will take place on lands in Galway including Ireland’s largest wind farm, the Galway Wind Park (GWP) that is being restored as part of the EU Life Multi-Peat project. The Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics is a wildE research partner and will provide advanced data analytics techniques to support the project.
Rewilding is an approach to landscape management with an emphasis on allowing ecosystems to evolve with little to no human intervention. Until now the approach has mostly been limited to local conservation initiatives scattered across the continent without a systematic consideration of aspects of climate change mitigation or adaptation. Climate-smart rewilding as developed by wildE aims to overcome these barriers by taking a more holistic approach that considers climatic, economic and societal challenges.
Project lead Niall Ó’Brolcháin of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, said: “wildE is an exciting new €8.5million EU project involving 22 partners from across Europe researching climate-smart rewilding as a solution to the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss.
“In Ireland the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics is teaming up with the department of Geography in the University of Galway to examine ways to improve biodiversity and reduce carbon loss at Ireland's largest wind farm the Galway Wind Park over the next four years. Based on ecological data collected during the project the Insight SFI Research Centre will use advanced data analytics techniques to build evidence-based policy recommendations for EU and national policies.”
The European Union has set out ambitious goals to combat the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 aims to restore significant areas of degraded ecosystems and to legally protect 30% of Europe’s territory, with 10% under strict protection. In turn, the EU Climate Law legally binds the member states to become climate neutral by 2050. The restoration of degraded bogs has been identified as a key action in support of natural carbon capture worldwide. In Ireland, Atlantic Blanket bogs once covered an area of over 773,000 ha. Centuries of degradation due to draining, cutting and, more recently, afforestation and overgrazing have depleted this habitat by more than 80%.