Two thirds of Clara Bog remain, with one third having been lost as a result of peat extraction. The construction of the Clara to Rahan road and associated drains, beginning in the late 18th century, bisected the bog, causing it to subside by up to six metres. The bog is believed to have had a central dome shape, but now has two domes, one on Clara Bog West and one on Clara Bog East respectively. This is due to the subsidence of the bog towards the road on either side. In the 1980s, a dense network of surface drains were dug on Clara Bog East in preparation for commercial peat extraction. This never happened, and these drains have now been blocked.
Much work remains to be done in order to conserve this bog which is still drying out and subsiding. The bog has been the focus of national and international scientiﬁc investigation for many years. Understanding the ecohydrology (the study of the interactions between ecosystems and water) of the bog is key to its survival. As water is the lifeblood of all raised bogs, it is hoped that the ongoing long-term and intensive study of Clara Bog will also help to conserve other Irish raised bogs, of national and international conservation interest.
Clara Bog has been chosen as one of the bogs that the ‘The Living Bog‘ project team will work on. The aim of this project is that twelve of Ireland’s unique raised bog SAC’s in seven counties will be brought back to life between 2016 – 2020. Restoration work on these Natura 2000 sites will improve over 2,600 hectares of threatened raised bog habitat – the equivalent of over 7,000 Croke Parks and 18% of the national high bog area.
It is estimated there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bog in Ireland. What little remains is in need of restoration and conservation. Thanks to this five year project, which has been made possible by the EU LIFE Nature and Biodiversity Fund, together with assistance from Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Living Bog will again become a reality…