#waterquality – Inland Fisheries Ireland through the MulkearLIFE project has been awarded 'Most Significant Contribution to Water Quality' at the recent Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) Community and Council Awards 2015. The announcement took place at a ceremony last month at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry.
MulkearLIFE is a European Commission LIFE+ Nature project working to restore degraded habitats throughout the Mulkear Catchment. The catchment forms part of the Lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation.
Speaking at the announcement of the awards, MulkearLIFE's manager, Mr. Ruairí Ó Conchúir, noted: "We are delighted to receive this LAMA Award for MulkearLIFE's work towards improving water quality. The success of this flagship project 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.
"The project, one of the first and most important integrated catchment management projects in Ireland, has worked hard to promote the importance of the Mulkear catchment on a regional, national and international stage, and our major objective has been the development of strong linkage with the farming community to promote improved water quality."
Ó Conchúir continued: "In addition to this, we have worked hard to undertake outreach work in the community, including a comprehensive environmental educational programme within local schools, and actively managed practical conservation outings undertaken by the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers. This award is a testament to our work over the past five years and is something we are all extremely proud of."
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh TD, commented: "I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate Inland Fisheries Ireland and the MulkearLIFE project on their success at the recent LAMA Community and Council Awards. The destruction of eco-systems by invasive species and loss of habitat is one of the biggest problems facing our environment, and the actions undertaken by MulkearLIFE have helped to restore the natural balance in one of the Shannon's most important tributaries."
MulkearLIFE / Inland Fisheries Ireland was nominated by Cllr. Elena Secas, a Labour party member of Limerick City and County Council. The LAMA Community and Council Awards, now in their ninth year, acknowledge the important role that business, communications, and tourism play on both a local and national level in conjunction with councils.
The award recognises MulkearLIFE's work with local landowners to improve water quality on the Mulkear River and its main tributaries. The work focused on building a partnership based approach to examine practical cost effective ways by which river water quality on farms can be improved. River water quality is a concern in areas affected by cattle disturbance due to trampling and faecal contamination. The work was undertaken on 'pilot farms' and was designed to be a learning process for all involved, local farmers, planners and the staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland.
It is hoped that the work will help inform policy and the implementation of progressive agri-environmental measures on how-riparian zones (watercourse margins) can be best managed. Participation in the programme of work by farmers was entirely voluntary, the pilot sites worked to promote good water stewardship within the wider Special Area of Conservation through the development of sustainable water solutions where farmers are relying on direct access or cattle drinks for watering their cattle.
MulkearLIFE is headed by Inland Fisheries Ireland who acted as coordinating beneficiary and worked with key project partners in the Office of Public Works and Limerick City and County Council. The National Parks and Wildlife acted as a significant project co-financier. A range of other stakeholders supported 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 (local farmers and landowners, IFA, ICMSA, Angling Associations, local schools and school children and volunteers).