The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) presented its Irish ’2013 Environment Award’ to MulkearLIFE in the Lower River Shannon Catchment. MulkearLIFE is a European Commission LIFE+ Nature project working to restore degraded habitats through the Mulkear Catchment which forms part of the Lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation.
Rubble mat under construction by Limerick Co Co, Mulkear River, August 2013
The €1.75 million project, which has been active since late 2009, is spear-headed by Inland Fisheries Ireland who act as coordinating beneficiary and work with key project partners in the Office of Public Works and Limerick County Council. The National Parks and Wildlife act as project co-financiers. A range of other stakeholders support the project including local authorities (North & South Tipperary County Councils) as well as other state bodies (ESB Fisheries, Teagasc, Coillte, EPA) and most especially the local community (IFA, ICMSA, Mulkear & District Angling Association, local schools and school children, farmers and volunteers).
MulkearLIFE’s Catchment Management Group – Oct 2013
In granting its Environment Award for 2013, the Republic of Ireland Branch of the CIWEM noted that MulkearLIFE is one of the most exciting and important river restoration and nature conservation projects ever undertaken on a catchment basis in Ireland. It noted that its work is providing a ‘conservation blueprint’ for future integrated catchment management. The project, which is centred on the Mulkear catchment, covering an area of approximately 650 sq. kms across counties Limerick and Tipperary, is focused on the rehabilitation of degraded river habitats. This work has focused on the conservation and enhancement of habitat for Atlantic Salmon, Sea Lamprey and European Otter. Other work has concentrated on the control and treatment of non-native invasive riparian plant species and work to enhance local biodiversity. Significant efforts have focussed on creating an enhanced environmental awareness of the importance of Mulkear catchment as a resource for all. The local farming community has played a key role in this regard.
Enhanced environmental awareness, Cappamore National School on the Bilboa River
MulkearLIFE’s manager, Mr. Ruairí Ó Conchúir, noted that the success of MulkearLIFE has been highly dependent on an active catchment management partnership process and on extensive outreach work to enhance environmental awareness for those living within or near the catchment. He noted that the project has worked hard to promote the importance of the Mulkear catchment on a regional, national scale and at an international level. Mr. Ó Conchúir stated that a major objective has been the development of strong community links through a comprehensive environmental educational programme within local schools, in addition to actively managed practical conservation outings undertaken by the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers.
Mulkear Conservation Volunteers remove Himalayan Balsam at Annacotty
Ms. Suzanne Dempsey, Chairperson of the Republic of Ireland Branch of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, stated that she was delighted to acknowledge the contribution of MulkearLIFE in bringing community and government together to plan, manage and enhance the conservation status of the Lower Shannon SAC. She congratulated all involved in MulkearLIFE especially the lead partners in Inland Fisheries Ireland, the OPW and Limerick County Council and wished the project every success.
OPW’s work in partially removing Ballyclogh weir has greatly improved fish passage
Dr. Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland thanked CIWEM for the award and the acknowledgement of the work of IFI and its project partners. He thanked all involved in the success of the project to date and especially those involved in MulkearLIFE’s catchment management grouping and local farmers on the ground.
*Atlantic Salmon jumping over Annacotty weir. Mulkear River (Image: Lette Maloney)
Minister for State Fergus O’ Dowd, TD commended the efforts of the MulkearLIFE team and the funding support of the European Commission LIFE+ Programme. He noted that the funding support was of critical importance in allowing the project to undertake much of its work over the last 4 years and he expressed his hope that the work would continue into 2014.
Field trip to the ‘Mural of LIFE’ on the Mulkear River in 2012