Catchment News

The development of Rivers Trusts in Ireland

The Rivers Trust Logo "where there's water, there's life"

Rivers trusts are charities, established by local people to look after, protect and improve rivers, streams and lakes in a particular river-catchment or an area comprising many river catchments.

As local charities they are often described as having “wet feet” because they have the reputation of being “doers”, concentrating their effort on practical catchment, river and fishery improvement works on the ground. In the history of almost every trust there has been a key trigger leading to their formation, for example through a concern over the general decline in species and water quality in a river or a pollution incident which resulted in the loss of fish and other wildlife.  Such events focus minds and often the decision by local rivers users, landowners and other interested parties, to form a new trust or similar body is often seen as a most appropriate and effective way forward in order to begin the restoration of the river.

There are already a number of rivers trusts established or are forming across Ireland.  The Slaney Rivers Trust, Nore Suir Rivers Trust and Blackwater Rivers Trust are all well-established rivers trusts making a difference to the health of the rivers in their catchments.  The Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust in County Kerry, Maigue Rivers Trust in County Limerick and Inishowen Rivers Trust in County Donegal are all in the process of forming.  These trusts join the 7 established rivers trusts in Northern Ireland, 44 in England and Wales and 25 rivers and fisheries trust in Scotland – a network with a vast wealth of knowledge and expertise in river conservation and management and who are always happy to help each other.

The Department of Environment, Communities and Local Government (DECLG) and the newly formed Local Authority Water and Communities Office (LAWCO) are keen to see the development of rivers trusts across Ireland.  The Department has provided funding to The Rivers Trust (the umbrella body for rivers trusts to support the role of the All-Ireland Development Officer – Mark Horton, who is based at, and manages, Ballinderry Rivers Trust in County Tyrone.

Mark is on hand to offer advice and support to groups who are interested in forming a rivers trust in their area. Talks can be provided to groups on what rivers trusts are, the work they are involved in and how they form, as well as support and guidance in then setting up a rivers trust as a charity.

If you would like to find out more about rivers trusts contact Mark Horton (All-Ireland Development Officer) on 00 44 28 867 61515 or e-mail, or contact the Waters and Communities Office on

Article by Mark Horton, All-Ireland Rivers Trust Development Officer

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.