18th August

Native woodlands to protect water and aquatic ecosystems

Deployment of new native woodlands and associated undisturbed water setbacks, which together combine to form permanent semi-natural habitats designed to deliver 'critical water-related ecosystems services' are proposed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine DAFM).

Irelands Native woodlands killarney

Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, contains the largest area of native woodland in Ireland. Photo DAFM 

The 'Woodland for Water' measure, which can be realised with funding under the Native Woodland Establishment Scheme is underpinned by relevant research and initiatives in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere, and demonstrates a range of water-related ecosystem services such as protection against nutrient and sediment runoff, bank stabilisation, 'food drop' into aquatic ecosystems, shading and cooling, floodwater regulation and riparian restoration.

This initiative is one of a number of measures set out in the publication 'Forests & Water: Achieving Objectives under Ireland's River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 which details how DAFM and the wider forest sector will fulfil their role in achieving the objectives under the 2nd cycle of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) as set out in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021.

Development of the RBMP involved a characterisation and prioritisation assessment of all water bodies based on technical assessments, knowledge and information from Local Authoriites, Inland Fisheries and Irish Water,  is supported by data gathered from Catchment Characterisation Workshops. 

Of the 4,829 water bodies, 1,460 were considered 'at risk' of not meeting their WFD status objective, based on pressures from agriculture (53%), hydromorphology (24%), urban wastew water (20%), forestry (16%), domestic waste water (11%), peat extractive industry (8%) and urban runoff (9%).

A total of 384 river, lake, transitional and coastal water bodies have a high ecological status objective (protect and restore). These include 319 river water bodies (28 within the priority eight Freshwater Pearl Mussel Catchments) and 37 lake water bodies. A total of124 river and lake water bodies are 'at risk' of not meeting their HES objective, with forestry identified as the most significant pressure.

According to DAFM, 'inappropriately-sited forests and poorly managed forest operations can potentially impact water quality, aquatic habitats and species such as salmonoids and Freshwater Pearl Mussel, particularly in terms of situation and nutrient runoff and changes in hydromorphology'.

An overall approach set out in Forests & Water is to safeguard water during all forestry operations, to restructure existing forests to reflect water sensitivities where required, and by locating and designing new woodlands and forests in a way that protects water quality.

'The aim is fully realise the important role woodlands and forests have in protecting and enhancing Ireland's waters and associated aquatic ecosystems.'

The two publications: Woodland for Water: Creating new native woodlands to protect and enhance Ireland's waters' and Forests & Water: Achieving Objectives under Ireland's River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, are available for download.

 (Further comment and analysis in our Autumn issue, Sept 15) 

Spread the News

Native woodlands to protect water and aquatic ecos...

Deployment of new native woodlands and associated undisturbed water setbacks, which together combine [ ... ]

Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave

Alarm bells are ringing for plants, algae and sea creatures stressed by the current heatwave in  [ ... ]

Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are of high ...

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland  2017 produced by the Environmental Protection Agency has  [ ... ]

Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s w...

A two-year overdue River Basin Management Plan “falls far short” of what is needed to protect Ir [ ... ]

Native woodlands to protect water and aquatic ecosystems
Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave
Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are  of high quality
Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s water quality