Rivers trusts are charities, established by local people to look…
The Nore Vision Project
How do you get from ‘A’ to ‘B’? If ‘A’ is a catchment with deteriorating water quality and ‘B’ represents these problems rectified in perpetuity? This question has occupied the minds and the careers of a wide variety of extremely talented people over the past few decades; people drawn from State Agencies, Local Authorities, NGO’s, Community & Voluntary sector, and just plain old concerned citizens.
With this question in mind, recent years have seen several seminal Integrated Catchment Management initiatives, including Duhallow Life (upper River Blackwater, Cork; directed by Dr Fran Igoe and his team), Ballinderry (Tyrone; Alan Keyes and Mark Horton), the Mulkear LIFE Project (Limerick/Tipperary; Ruairí Ó Conchúir and others), and with the Rivers Trusts approach being rolled out in places as diverse as Inishowen (Donegal) and the River Maigue (Limerick).
Whatever the method in getting from that ‘A’ point to that ‘B’ point, it is clear that the people of a given catchment reside at the heart of achieving these objectives, which would not alone assist in meeting our Water Framework Directive obligations but would see an enhancement of biodiversity, human health, tourism and farm produce values.
The Nore Vision Project, led by Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, seeks to harness the wide and existing efforts of established River Nore Catchment initiatives, including Keep Kilkenny Beautiful (Tidy Towns alliance), the River Nore Trust, the Thomastown Community Rivers Trust, Dinin River Riparian Rehabilitation Programme, and the Bregagh River Valley Biodiversity Project (amongst others), and to knit these into an over-arching catchment-wide vision and ensuing action plan.
The Nore’s story is relatively typical: the catchment, of 2,500km2, has 123 distinct Water Bodies with 49 of these (40%) at risk of failing to meet environmental objectives. The pressures include the ‘usual suspects’; sewage infrastructure, agriculture and forestry, etc. How to motivate catchment citizens to ‘up’ their ‘best-practice’ game to address these problems? What are the costs? What are the benefits?
An inaugural stakeholder consultation, with 35 people representing a good cross-section of catchment interests in attendance, took place on October 17th 2017 at Springhill Court Hotel in Kilkenny. Following an opening presentation which included the provision of land use, population, and water quality maps, the evening was organised to ensure that individual tables contained mixing sectoral representatives to discuss, elicit, and produce responses to the following key provocative questions:
1. What is your interest in the River Nore & its catchment?
2. What concerns would you have for the River Nore & its catchment?
3. Within your lifetime, what do you want to see happen to the River Nore and its catchment?
4. What are the steps needed to achieve these goals (vision)?
This was a very effective approach as it ensured that anglers, farmers, kayakers, business people, and environmental NGO’s were thrown in together to share concerns and arrive at (tentative) consensus of vision to report to the wider attendance. With this great start, ‘The Nore Vision’ seems a very worthy iteration of other ongoing efforts in catchments throughout Ireland and its progress will be followed with interest.
The event was facilitated by Dr Harriet Emerson (Adjust.ie) and Dr Caroline Crowley (Crowley Research) supported by Kilkenny LEADER Partnership staff – Declan Rice, CEO; Gabrielle Carroll, Enterprise & Project Officer; Mairead Rohan, Development Officer; J.J. Nolan, Business Development Manager; and Harry Everard, Rural Recreation Officer.
For further information:
Dr Harriet Emerson and Dr Caroline Crowley The Nore Vision TheNoreVision@gmail.com 087 610 1510 Mark Boyden, Streamscapes Mark Boyden is Cathaoirleach of SWAN and Director of the ‘StreamScapes’ Aquatic & Biodiversity Education Project – www.streamscapes.ie