The October outing of the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers took place on a gorgeous autumn day on the banks of Mulkear River at Ballyclogh Weir. The highly successful outing, undertaking practical conservation work, was focused on riparian management at this beautiful site. The primary task was to plant a large number of native Irish trees. Tree species included common oak, mountain ash, birch and hawthorn. Many of the trees were over two meters in height and had to be staked to protect them from wind damage.
MCV members plant a significant number of trees (Image: Glen Wightman)
The morning outing also involved a discussion regarding the history of Ballyclogh weir and mill and other mills and associated weirs both on the lower Mulkear River and on other rivers in the Mulkear catchment. The discussion focused on the historic use of these weirs and mills – the majority of which are now gone. The discussion also focused on the legacy issue and problems created by these historic structures in terms of fish passage. The discussion also outlined how the partial removal of Ballyclogh Weir restored habitat connectivity within this section of Mulkear River.
Habitat connectivity restored via the partial removal of weir (Image: Martin O’ Grady)
At the same time as improving fish passage and upstream habitat very considerable conservation work was undertaken on site. This has included the strengthening of the retained section of the weir but it has also included the replacement of stone on the face and cap, addressing undercutting, erosion and scour and replacing the severely damaged trash guard with a new guard and generally improving the wonderful stone cut features of the weir and side channel.
Significant conservation work undertaken on the weir (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
This discussion tied in nicely with the practical conservation work of the MCV and how their tree planting activities over the past three years, at this site and a great many other sites, have helped improve riparian habitat connectivity.
Trees play a key role in riparian connectivity (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Riparian corridors are extremely important places for a large number of plants and animals. The riparian zone is the interface between land and a river or stream. They provide a vital conduit for the transfer of nutrients between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and play a vital role in capturing nutrients and silt which run off from adjacent lands. They supply shelter and food for many aquatic animals and shade that is an important part of stream temperature regulation. They play prominent role in supporting a diversity of species and providing the above mentioned ecosystem services.
MCV members hard at work – planting trees and hawthorn (Image: Glen Wightman)
Both sides of the river where MulkearLIFE’s work upon during the summer had impacted on have now been planted to a significant extent. Further work on site in planned in the coming months.
After a hard morning’s work, MCV members at Ballyclogh weir (Image: Glen Wightman)
MulkearLIFE would like to thank all the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers, including new members, who gave so generously of their time to make the outing such a success. Their work to help improve the functioning of the riparian zone at Ballyclogh is greatly appreciated.