MulkearLIFE was delighted to be in a position to host a large group of Teagasc advisors and planners as part of a two day training workshop organised jointly by Teagasc and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Tomas Butler & Patrick Hourigan lead-off Teagasc field trip (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Before the field trip got underway MulkearLIFE have an overview of key work areas of the project which are not directly related to its work with farmers but which is highly dependant upon the goodwill of local farmers and landowners. This includes all f the project instream works to improve instream and riparian habitat for Atlantic salmon and other fish species. The presentation then went on to review MulkearLIFE’s work with local farmers and profiles the farms to be visited yesterday afternoon. Finally the brief presentation discussed the key key issues emerging in upland catchments. Examining the upper Mulkear Catchment as a case study the potential impact on water quality of land abandonment, increased forestry plantations and upland windfarms was discussed.
The Project outlines the extent of the catchment to guests (Image: Glen Wightman)
But the highlight of the day, despite the extremely heavy rain showers, were the field trips to view the work taking place under the LIFE project at three farmers on the Dead and Bilbao rivers. Mr. Patrick Hourigan and Mr. Tomas Butler, landowners with extensive river frontage on the Dead, Reasc and Cahernahillia rivers welcomed their visitors on the first stop of the field trip to the Dead River.
Tomas Butler explains the extent of last years flooding (Image: Glen Wightman)
The landowners outlined the nature of their respective farm operations and the drainage history of the area. In addition, they outlined the nature of the support offered by MulkearLIFE over the past three years and the actual capital works undertaken on the river. Other issues discussed included the nature of invasive species in the catchment and in particular the problem of Giant Hogweed on the Dead River. It was noted by Mr. Hourigan that the problem has become increasingly problematic over the past 10 to 15 years and that the control measures by Limerick County Council through the MulkearLIFE project were helping to control the extent of the problem.
On cue – mallard and ducklings on the Dead River yesterday (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The role of river corridors, riparian zones and flood plains in terms of the provision of habitat for a species was also discussed. The use of grasslands in winter for wading birds was highlighted. Then work of MulkearLIFE in terms of the provision of an artificial otter holt on site was outlined as was the work of the project in attempting to reconnect old oxbows with the river channel and create wildlife habitats was highlighted.
Difficult farming conditions execrated by heavy downpours (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The weather difficulties currently being faced by landowners was highlighted in the severe downpours at the start afternoon and as the field trip to the Dead River concluded.
Teagasc staff review Pheasant Berry on the Bilboa River (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The Bilboa River was the site of the second field trip and the contrast between the two sites was very apparent from the outset. The nature of the project’s work with the farmer, Mr. John Ryan was outlined. It was noted that this High Nature Value farmland site was highly productive from a fisheries and wildlife perspective. The particular problem of non-native invasive (Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Pheasant Berry) was discussed in detail.
Teagasc advisors review Himalayan Balsam (Image: Glen Wightman)
MulkearLIFE would like to thank Catherine Keena (Teagasc) and Dr. James King (IFI) for affording MulkearLIFE the opportunity to profile the work of the project with local farmers in the catchment as part of the training event. More especially, MulkearLIFE would like to most sincerely thank, Mr. Patrick Hourigan, Mr. Tomas Butler for giving so generously of their time and expertise and for allowing us to view the work undertake on the Dead River. The project would also like to thank Mr. John Ryan for allowing us to access his farm on the Bilboa River.
Teagasc advisors and IFI staff on the Bilboa River (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)