The award-winning Clara Bog Visitors’ Centre and Nature Reserve in Co Offaly is one of a number of projects developed through the provision of ERDF structural funding.
At more than 840 hectares in size, Clara is one of the best remaining examples of an intact raised bog in Western Europe and is home to hundreds of plant and animal species.
In 2014 a wave forked moss, thought to be extinct in Ireland was discovered on the bog. Thanks to its award-winning €2.1 million visitor centre, looped boardwalks and regular tours and events, people can experience over 10,000 years of history.
Visitors can get up close and personal with with the bog’s intricate ecosystems and rare species of flora and fauna. “A lot of people would have a limited view of what the bog is so they are surprised when they discover that it contains insect-eating plants, lizards and dragon flies which can be found in bog pools,” explains Enda Molloy, an Education Guide at the centre.
The Centre which hosts school and university groups as well an estimated 20,000 visitors annually, promotes the conservation peatland sites through effective communication and by building trust and pride with local communities. It also highlights the positive role that preserved bogs can play in mitigating the worst effects of climate change.
Clara Bog is part of the €5.4 million Living Bog programme, a five-year initiative, funded by the European Union’s LIFE Programme, which will see restoration measures taking place on 12 raised bog Special Areas of Conservation. Under the plan, hundreds more hectares of Clara Bog will be improved between now and 2020.