Environmental Consultancy Services to Develop a Framework of Best Practice Measures and Guidelines for the Protection and Restoration of High Status River Waterbodies

The Waters of LIFE is an EU LIFE Integrated Project which aims to help reverse the deterioration of Ireland’s most pristine waters. The ongoing loss of high status waters is among the most concerning, protracted and persistent water quality trend in Ireland.

Other water quality trends have well-understood cause and effect, with detailed plans in place to mitigate impacts. More actions are necessary to protect pristine waters. Many of these waters are small, upland streams. The protection and restoration of these waters is one of the key underpinning principles of the Water Framework Directive.

The overall objective of the Waters of LIFE  IP is to support the implementation of measures to protect and enhance High-Status Waters and thus to support the work of the Blue Dot Catchments Programme as outlined at Section 8.3.2 (pages 103-105) of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021.

The Waters of LIFE IP will act as a catchment-scale demonstration project to test and validate the effectiveness of implementing locally-tailored ‘best practice’ measures across a range of landscape and land-use management activities typically associated with the catchments of high-status waters. The project will trial and validate the implementation of measures at the catchment scale across a number of pilot catchments with the view to building national understanding and capacity, optimising approaches for the targeting of measures in critical areas of the catchment, assessing the effectiveness of the approach and using the learnings from the project to inform and support ongoing work across all high-status catchments in the Irish River Basin District. It will demonstrate the effective implementation of an integrated catchment-based approach for the application of measures to protect and/or restore all waters for which a high-status objective has been identified in Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan.

Outputs from the project will support the refinement and ongoing development of guidance and measures for farming, forestry and other land-use practices in the catchments of high-status waters. Critically, project outputs will provide input to the development of future national policies and strategies for the protection of high-status waters, in particular approaches for the elaboration of future agri-environment and forestry support measures needed to protect and preserve this important environmental resource.

The project will focus on demonstrating the practical application of bespoke locally-tailored solutions at both the catchment and the plot scale, based on best scientific understanding of the environmental circumstances and priorities within individual catchments and taking account of the input and views of local farmers, landowners and people within the community who have knowledge of their own locality. The project will give strong emphasis to harnessing community involvement, ownership and goodwill in order to achieve mutual benefits and deliver the necessary land-use management changes to support the long-term protection and maintenance of high-status waters.

Tenders are invited for the provision of consultancy services to prepare a framework of best practice measures and guidelines for the protection and enhancement of high status river waterbodies.

All relevant measures that may have application in high status river catchments will be identified and evaluated through the review process. Although not all will be trialled in demonstration catchment applications in this project, the framework will be available for roll out to support RBMP objectives, and the wider Blue Dot Programme in particular, for the full range of national high status catchments and the diversity of issues and scenarios to be addressed.

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