Catchment News

New EU projects launched to restore Ireland’s blanket bogs and protect and improve water quality

The European Commission Representation in Ireland has announced the launch of two major new EU-funded environmental projects aimed at restoring Ireland’s blanket bogs and protecting and improving the status of the country’s freshwater bodies.

“These projects will benefit from over €20 million in funding from the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action: the LIFE programme. Protecting the environment and increasing biodiversity is a major priority for the European Commission, particularly in the context of President Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal.”

Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Ireland, Gerard Kiely

The LIFE-IP Waters of Life programme aims to protect and restore high ecological status waterbodies in Ireland. Ireland’s river basin management plan for 2018-2021 sets out measures for protecting and improving the status of the country’s freshwater bodies. LIFE-IP Waters of Life will act as a river basin-scale demonstration project, testing the effectiveness of the plan’s ‘best practice’ measures across a range of landscapes.

The project will encourage local communities and landowners to get involved in developing management actions for farm- and forestland. It will also build synergies between measures addressing water quality and biodiversity, and enhance public appreciation of high-status water bodies and their catchment areas.

Co-ordinated by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the project will run to December 2026 and will benefit from over €9 million in EU-funding.

The River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 sets out the targets and measures Ireland will implement to achieve the objectives of the WFD. One of the key measures to address the decline in high status waterbodies is the setting up of the Blue Dot Catchments Programme and associated Steering Group to specifically target the maintenance and restoration of high status waterbodies. The Programme is directed by a Blue Dot National Steering Group which had its inaugural meeting in January 2019. The Steering Group is chaired by John Breen, Director of Services for Water, Environment, Fire and Library Services in Kerry County Council and is made up of representatives from many of the organisations with an interest in high status waterbodies.

Learn more:

You can read more about the Ireland’s Blue Dots Programme and the Waters of LIFE integrated project here:

Part of the LIFE Integrated Project Environment (nature conservation) scheme, the LIFE-IP PAF Wild Atlantic Nature programme aims to protect and restore Ireland’s blanket bog Natura Network along Atlantic seaboard.

Drainage, peat cutting, fires and overgrazing have left blanket bogs in the Northern and Western Region of Ireland in an unfavourable condition. LIFE-IP PAF Wild Atlantic Nature will protect and restore blanket bogs in 24 of the country’s Natura 2000 sites. It will involve the removal of encroaching trees and shrubs, the blockage of drains to raise water levels and the improvement of fire management measures.

The project will increase awareness of the ecological value of blanket bogs’ and their importance for climate change mitigation, while developing a sense of community ownership of local peatlands. The project will also secure the support of landowners, land users and other local stakeholders for management plans, which address the multiple threats facing these sites.

Co-ordinated by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the LIFE-IP PAF Wild Atlantic Nature project will run to December 2028 and will benefit from over €12 million in EU-funding.

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.