Sunday, May 15, 2011

Peat Moss and Bog Destruction

One of the benefits of being in the Connemara region of Ireland this week has been learning epoch amounts of information about bogs and bog land destruction. All over Ireland are small patches of bog, however, there used to be much more. Because of the lack of natural trees in the area, farmers have used bog sod for everything from building huts and out buildings to heating fuel. Every where you go you see the stuff laid out to dry or in piles for collection. They use spades and these long tools to cut out fairly uniform chunks of peaty sod. When this is done by individual farmers for individual needs this usually isn't a huge problem. But done in large enough numbers for so many years, it takes a toll on the natural environment. The amount of bogs in Ireland have decreased a great deal. And I am sure it is a similar situation anywhere peat moss is harvested for commercial use as well.

We visited Connemara National Park today. The visitor's center had a lot of great information about bogs and how they have changed due to human destruction. Especially look at the maps of Ireland and how the amount of blog land has dwindled. There are many species who thrive in these bog lands and it seems a shame to take away their habitat. Much of the land here is now used for sheep herds.

In the US we get much of our commercial Peat Moss from the bogs of Canada. It contains almost no nutrients, but is seen as a soil additive because it adds a bit of aeration. There is so much more we can use as our soil additives. There is no need to strip these dwindling ecosystems of their native lands for soil additives or heating fuel unless it is necessary for survival.

On a more positive note, the bog walk in the park was really nice, though, today has been a very wet and rainy day. We took a many kilometer hike up a mountain and back down. Again, my anti-nature, very sweet husband was indulging my need to explore the environment. He went the whole way with me and even pretended to enjoy himself. ;). We saw great landscapes again, along with more sheep and some of Connemara Stat Park's herd of Ponies.

Tomorrow we head home and while I have loved every minute in Ireland, I am ready to see my kids, my animals and my garden! It feels like forever since I've seen my kids and I miss them greatly.

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