Restore in 2024: TCV and Hughes Insurance call for peatland volunteers

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and Hughes Insurance are calling for volunteers to embrace a unique New Year’s resolution – to help save Omagh’s peatland sites in a bid to tackle climate change.

January and February are a significant window for action as the peatland sites must then remain untouched to protect nesting birds from mid-February to September, when volunteering to enhance this special habitat can recommence.

Referred to as Northern Ireland’s rainforests, around 18 per cent of the province is covered by the valuable ecosystems which support native species and act as crucial carbon stores.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the environment by restoring the severely degraded habitat which is invaluable for biodiversity and soaking up carbon emissions. The initiative will also remove onsite invasive species by hand and be used for educational purposes at the museum to showcase carbon offsetting figures.

Dianne Keys, Operations Leader at TCV Northern Ireland explains, “TCV is not-for-profit, volunteer led organisation and we simply can’t function without the help of the public. January is all about making new resolutions and as the February cut off for volunteering quickly approaches, we’re calling on individuals across Northern Ireland to kick off the New Year by taking part in this wonderful opportunity to tackle climate change.

“When correctly treated, peatlands play a massive role in our local ecosystem by storing harmful carbon emissions and providing a haven for our at-risk species of birds, wildflowers and mosses. The areas, including our 1.6-acre site at Omagh also supports water quality and can act as natural flood management.

“Unfortunately, 86 per cent of Northern Ireland’s peatlands have suffered damage and are emitting tons of carbon annually. Funding from Hughes Insurance plays a vital role in the huge task of restoring these ecosystems, aiding both land and wildlife recovery, and advancing the site towards carbon storage.

Hughes Insurance has partnered with TCV as part of its Action for Impact initiative – a £100,000 commitment to various charities and organisations to deliver on its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda in 2024 and beyond. The initiative, specifically designed to support communities, create positive environmental impact and improve employee wellbeing, will also see Hughes’ 250 employees commit to volunteering across the province, known as Action Days.

Emma Haughian, Senior Marketing Manager at Hughes Insurance, said, “At Hughes, we recognise the pivotal role community engagement plays in achieving lasting impact and we’re proud to support this vital initiative in partnership with TCV. Our Action for Impact programme is all about coming together and we’re asking the public to join us in making a difference and being part of the solution towards a more sustainable Northern Ireland.”

As part of wider Action for Impact activity, Hughes Insurance has also partnered with Ulster Wildlife, Mary Peters Trust, Business in the Community and Women in Business.

To find out more on TCV’s Peatland Restoration project or how to volunteer visit www.tcv.org.uk/northernireland, for all available dates in January 2024. For more information on Hughes Insurance workplace initiatives and Action for Impact visit hughesinsurance.co.uk.