Focus on the Open Data Engagement Fund : European Peatlands and Policies Open Data

20 May 2024


Author: Niall Ó Brolcháin


In spite of the orange weather warning in Galway on Saturday the 6th of April, the European Peatlands and Policies Open Data Mapathon 2024 in the University of Galway was a huge success.


The purpose of the event was to map peatlands across Europe and to link them with policies by using open data and other public data.

With 184 people registered and 20 teams participating in the Mapathon, the following countries were all mapped using QGIS open source software, Ireland, the United Kingdom (Scotland and England), the Netherlands, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.


Teams identified and mapped the peatlands right across northern Europe, they identified and visualised policies and they linked these with insights using open data.

A significant number of volunteers from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics acted as a support team to integrate geospatial and tabular Open Data using open access tools including Open Street Maps and QGIS.

The event was held online and in person at the University of Galway (Insight/DSI) sponsored by the Dept. Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform in Ireland as part of their open data engagement fund. A special Heritage Award was sponsored by The IRC COALESECE/INSTAR+ PROJECT Irish Peatland Archaeology Across Time (IPeAAT), UCC, Cork and Open Data support was provided by Derilinx.



The winners of the event were as follows:

1st Prize, Peat-cell Pixels led by Behaz Mozafari of UCD who mapped Ireland.

2nd Prize, Kastani Street led by Liina Hints of the University of Tartu who mapped Estonia.

3rd Prize, Peat Finders led by Shivani Negi of Wetlands International who also mapped Estonia.

A special heritage award was won by the Peatlands Policies Polygons led by Ellis Dupker also of Wetlands International who mapped the Netherlands.


Event organizer Niall Ó Brolcháin, Unit leader of ASPECT @ Insight at the University of Galway, was delighted by the huge interest from right across Europe. He said, “working with a pan European community to develop an open data ecosystem to support the restoration of a real peatland ecosystem is a great privilege. The fact that this event touches on so many different policy objectives was quite an eye opener even to me. Many thanks to all the people who supported this event in so many different ways”.


We were particularly delighted to welcome Hugo Lachater and Théo Duch who travelled to Galway from France courtesy of the Interreg NWE Buffer+ project and Bethany Copsey representing Repeat who travelled overland from the Netherlands.


Great help and support was received from Derlinx who were a spinout company set up by Insight in Galway and who now manage the Irish National Open Data portal. Part of the objective of this event was to try to leverage the publication of open data from publicly held datasets. Derilinx carried out an analysis of the open data landscape relating to peatland data across Europe and encouraged various state agencies to publish their data as Open Data.


Mapathon TV was broadcast live on youtube at:


The hybrid format of the event was a challenge from a technical point of view but it worked out very well. It wasn’t quite as glamourous as the Eurovision Song Contest but it was very collegiate and a great eye opener for many participants with views from many different countries expressed.