Catchment News

Slovenian delegation visits Ireland to learn about turloughs and Irish LIFE projects

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Waters and Communities Office Community Water Officer, Ruairí Ó Conchúir, was delighted to host a delegation from Slovenia to the Burren and Lower Shannon in March 2018.

The visitors were from the EU LIFE project STRŽEN which is headed by the Institute for Conservation of Natural Heritage in Slovenia. In addition to the LIFE STRŽEN Project Team, the delegation included members of the Slovenia Institute for Nature Conservation, regional staff from various partner bodies including fisheries and forestry specialists.

The STRŽEN LIFE project has strong connections to Ireland and the unique natural water feature which is commonly found in Ireland – disappearing lakes, known as Turloughs. The project is working to improve the conservation status of turloughs, by restoring the former Stržen riverbed. The watercourse will be lengthened by 1.5 km. This work is designed to have several positive effects, including an increased saturation of soil with water that will improve conditions for various fish species, invertebrates, birds and mammals.

The project also aims at reducing the negative impact of visitors on the restored riverbed area and establishing quiet zones in the breeding habitat of the Eurasian bittern. A further aim is to gain long-term support for its conservation actions among the general public, and a positive change of attitude among key stakeholders. Their work and overall project objectives are strongly linked to the EU Habitats and Birds directives and Water Framework Directive.

The work of three major LIFE projects in Ireland was outlined to the visitors. In the Burren, this included the work of the multi-award winning project BurrenLIFE – Farming for Conservation, where Ruairí worked for five years. The work of GeoparkLIFE, a tourism for conservation programme established to seek a collaborative balance between the tourism interests and the conservation needs of the Burren was also discussed. On the Lower Shannon SAC, the delegation viewed the work of the multi-award winning project – MulkearLIFE. The Slovenian guests viewed the practical conservation measures which were undertaken to improve water quality, work undertaken with farmers throughout the catchment, work to support fish passage and major in-stream enhancement works on the Mulkear River and other rivers. MulkearLIFE was managed by Ruairí Ó Conchúir and reported to the EU in May 2015.

The delegation was also given a presentation on the work of the Waters and Communities Office, the new approach to the implementation of the 2nd Cycle of the Water Framework Directive and Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan (RBMP). There was considerable interest in the new governance structures and the public consultation process undertaken to date. There was also considerable interest expressed in the establishment of the Waters & Communities Office, the EPA’s Catchments Unit and the new regional operational groups established to ensure a fully collaborative approach to the implementation of the RBMP.

The Local Authority Waters and Communities Office wish all those involved in the LIFE STRŽEN project every success over the next 5 years.

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