LIFE IP project (Waters of LIFE)

LIFE Integrated projects 2018
Technical application forms
Part B – technical summary and overall context of the project

EPA has determined that the risk profile of high-status water bodies is different to the general risk profile across water bodies nationally.

In the case of those high-status water bodies which EPA has determined to be At Risk of not meeting their objective under the Water Framework Directive, forestry activity was a significant pressure in 40% of cases, hydromorphological alteration in 34%, agriculture in 28% and peat extraction or disturbance in 13% of cases

Objectives of project

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.

Summary actions

A.1: Prepare detailed characterisation of HS Catchments (ecology, natural capital value, main pressures, problems)


An initial analysis of classification metrics that have driven High Status Site changes in recent years. This will include sites that have lost HS, those that have improved to HS and sites where status has fluctuated between HS and lower classifications.

An analysis of landscape features, land use intensity, and hydrology that typifies known HS sites.

Identification of significant changes in landscape / land use over the period of analysis.

Comparison of HS changes and landscape feature changes to identify potential drivers of HS. This will include identification of unmonitored potentially HS sites.

– Procurement of external technical support. This should occur within 3 months of completion of task F.1.
– High Status Sites Characterisation Report delivered by 1/12/2020
– Landscapes of HS Sites Report and Unmonitored Sites Potentially at HS Report delivered by 1/12/2020
– Metrics for use in Determining Status Change Report delivered by 1/12/2020.

A.2: Prepare Framework of HS Measures (Best Practice Measures) and guidance


The task will deliver a framework of available measures for protection and restoration of high status catchments along with guidance on design and implementation; environmental parameters targeted and expected trajectories post implementation; estimated costs; synergies with other programmes of measures; cumulative or secondary effects. Through a SWOT analysis of shortlisted measures the Waters of Life project will include an assessment of constraints to implementation, likely acceptability of measure, and established effectiveness.

– Appointment of external technical support. This should occur within 3 months of completion of project management task F.1.
– Comprehensive list of measures for consideration in HS scenarios within 1 month of appointment of technical support.
– Draft Framework of HS Measures document for review within 4 months of appointment of technical support.
– Final Framework of HS Measures delivered by 1/03/2021.

A.3: Select Demonstration Catchments


A Demonstration Catchment Selection Report listing those catchments selected with a range of pressures suitable for measures demonstration will be delivered. This report will set out the Multi-Criteria Analysis used in the selection process for all catchments considered including those eventually shortlisted.
Early engagement with local communities during the process will direct the project to catchments and areas within catchments that will maximise the opportunity for local participation and for successful project outcomes. Details of the engagement process and groups / community members engaged will be set out in the report above.

– A Demonstration catchment Selection Report detailing the selection process and key considerations in final selected catchments. Lessons learnt in effective methods to approach and engage with local communities will be documented. This will be delivered within 15 months of completing action A.1.
– Demonstration catchments selected by 1/03/2022

A.4: Develop HS catchments RBAP scheme


A list of RBAPS ecosystem targets that reflect near natural catchment conditions required to support high status will be prepared by the Waters of Life project and agreed through consultation with farmers and stakeholders. Targets will be set for key relevant parameters essential to supporting high status waters and scheme eligibility criteria agreed.

A scoring system for assessment of results delivery that will allow for incremental achievement of targets will be prepared. The scoring system will reward progression between incremental phases and be agreed with stakeholders.

The Waters of Life project will prepare a payment scheme with payment levels that reflect the quality of results delivered as assessed by the agreed scoring system. Payments must also ensure that lower achievements are adequately rewarded to cover the cost of participation.

– An annotated list of Ecosystem targets with justification for their selection and specific objectives that are to be achieved. To be delivered within 6 months of action A.3 commencement.
– A scoring system for results assessment including details of criteria for evaluation and incremental steps. To be delivered within 9 months of action A.3 commencement.
– A payment scheme that reflects quality of outputs delivered and incentivises farmer performance. To be delivered within 15 months of action A.3 commencement.
– Guidance material to support scheme operation and training of participants and farmers.
– RBAPS including ecosystem targets, a scoring system for results assessment, and a payment scheme reflecting outputs delivered and incentivising farmer performance delivered by 1/03/2022
– Guidance for support scheme operation delivered by 1/03/2022.

A.5: Initial community engagement regarding concrete actions

The action will aim to ensure that measures trials are situated in areas where local communities are informed and supportive of project objectives.
It will provide initial feedback to the Waters of Life project team on measures selection and design.

– Final selection of demonstration catchments within 15 months of completing A.1.
– Report on local community engagement and attitudes to project actions and objectives, and awareness of HS sites within 15 months of completing A.1.
– Initial community engagement re concrete actions completed by 1/03/2022.

A.6: Investigate land ownership (commonage areas)

The Waters of Life project will prepare a map of commonage areas in the demonstration catchments selected and establish the relevant shareholders to permit engagement by the project.

– Identification of shareholders in relevant commonage areas in demonstration catchments. This action will commence in the latter part of the catchment selection task (A.3) and will be completed in the same timeframe.
– Commonage stakeholders in demonstration catchments identified by 1/03/2022

A.7: Secure Licenses / Permissions

This action will deliver a register of pre-commencement requirements for all project actions with specified lead-in times to minimise risk to implementation schedules. The register will be maintained as a live document throughout the project and updated as details of specific tasks are identified and requirements are discharged.

– Register of Pre-commencement Requirements. This action will commence during preparation of the framework of measures task (A.2) and will be continue into the phase of implementation programmes roll-out task (C.7).
– Timely discharge of licence, consents, consultations and permits.
– Licence, consents, consultations and permits discharged by 1/06/2023.

A.8: Review and elaborate a detailed work programme

The action will deliver an objective review of outputs to date and identify any lessons learnt and implications for ongoing Waters of Life project implementation. It will incorporate the findings of this review and the cumulative results to date into a detailed work programme for the next phase of the project.

– Project Interim Review Report to be delivered at the end of the preparatory actions phase and within 3 months of demonstration catchment selection.
– Detailed Project Work Programme – Phase 2. To be delivered within 3 months of demonstration catchment selection.
– Phase 1 and Work Programme-Phase 2 completed by 1/06/2022.

C.1: Catchment Walkover Investigations

The action will deliver 6 catchment walkover investigations that will identify, document and map the areas where significant pressures are present. The walkover investigations will be the basis for detailed site assessments in targeted follow-up investigations (action C.2)

– Initial Catchment Walkover Investigations completed by 1/09/2022.

C.2: Follow-up Catchment Investigations

The action will deliver a series of follow-up investigations that will provide scientific evidence of the nature and extent of pressures in the demonstration catchments and identify key locations for establishment and implementation of measures.

– Detailed catchment follow-up investigations completed by 1/09/2022.

C.3: Catchment strategic management plans


The action will deliver 6 Strategic Catchment Management plans setting out explicit catchment details with relevant mapping including data relating to water status, land use, hydrology, population distribution, pressure types, sources and locations. The plans will provide scientific evidence of the nature and extent of pressures and identify key locations for establishment and implementation of measures. Plans will also set out a programme of monitoring to establish baseline conditions for key specified parameters

– Strategic Catchment Management Plans completed by 1/12/2022.

C.4: Deliver training for agricultural and forestry advisors

The action will deliver a cohort of advisors with specific relevant knowledge to guide farming and forestry operations in HS catchments in a sustainable fashion. Farming advisors will be familiar with the bespoke RBAPS in terms of targets, performance indicators and payments structure. The action will deliver detailed training/capacity building relevant to the needs of national and regional stakeholders in specified sectors.

– Delivery of 5 number training days within six months of establishing locally based catchment teams in F.4.
– Agricultural and farm advisors trained by 1/12/2022.

C.5: Deliver training for farmers, forest operators and relevant practitioners

The actions will deliver a practical training programme to introduce practitioners to the project actions and objectives. The programme will include 2 one-day training events in each of the 5 demonstration catchments (the training will not be required in the control HS catchment).

– Schedule of training events and site visits to representative catchment areas within 3 months of recruiting locally based catchment teams.
– 10 training events to be delivered in demonstration catchments within 9 months of recruiting locally based catchment teams.
– Farmers and practitioners trained by 1/03/2023.

C.6: Prepare implementation plans in agreement with local landowners

The action will deliver integrated, practical and robust programmes for implementation of specified measures in priority catchment areas to sustain HS waters. These plans will be co-developed, agreed with, and informed by landowners and thus secure long term ownership of actions necessary for sustainable land use.

– Implementation plans agreed with landowners by 1/03/2023.

C.7: Implement programmes of measures across all demonstration catchments

The action will deliver an effective measures programme within 5 demonstration catchments. A limited number of measures may be implemented in the control catchment depending on the findings of actions C.1, C.2 and C.3. Monitoring the implementation and performance of measures will afford learning in relation to measures effectiveness and acceptability and any unforeseen consequences. Such learning will inform adaptive responses and revisions to the programme that can be included in future programmes beyond the project demonstration catchments.

– Roll out of programme of measures by 01/10/22.

C.8: Landuser support for measures implementation in demonstration catchments

The action will deliver an effective local measures programme for individual and cumulative pressures within 5 demonstration catchments. Implementation of measures by locally based community members will generate a sense of community custodianship of HS waters and reinforce the inherent value of such areas. It will address a resource gap in remote and sparsely populated catchments.

– Rural Development Scheme Measures Support Teams established by 01/10/2022

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D.1: Establish environmental monitoring programme

The action will deliver a fit for purpose monitoring programme to detect the impacts of measures being implemented to protect or restore HS waters and within class drift in status. It will inform future policy in relation to such sites and the design of intervention schemes intended to support their protection.

– HS Catchments Monitoring Programme established by 1/09/2022.

D.2: Ongoing environmental/status monitoring and progress reporting

This action will deliver an extensive dataset relating to implementation of measures in HS catchments and an assessment of their efficacy in supporting HS. It will also provide baseline data for the demonstration catchments.

– HS Catchments Monitoring Programme and Reporting implementation by 31/12/2026.
– Commencement of monitoring programme within 3 months of final selection of demonstration catchments
– Quarterly Monitoring Reports throughout the monitoring programme
– Annual Monitoring Reports throughout the monitoring programme.

D.3: Generate community custodianship of HS sites

This action will deliver a comprehensive report on the process of community engagement and inculcation of custodianship of HS waters. A pathway for similar processes nationally will be generated.

– Assessment of the process of community engagement and inculcation of custodianship of HS waters delivered by 31/12/2026.
– Design of community engagement/facilitation/co-design method within 3 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Carrying out of 1st cycle within 8 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Report on 1st cycle within 9 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Carrying out of 2nd cycle in 6 HS catchments in final year of the project
– Summary report on action research and recommendations based on lessons learned.

Project Management Group:

The DHPLG, as Co-ordinating Beneficiary, with the eight Associated Beneficiaries – Local Authorities (including LAWPro – Local Authority Waters Programme), the EPA, DAFM, the Forest Service (FS-DAFM), the NPWS, the OPW, Teagasc (the Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and Coillte (the State Forestry Body) together with representatives of participating stakeholders for example farmers/forest owners, will make up the Project Management Group.

Key staff members from all nine Beneficiaries have worked closely in the preparation of this project application and will meet to formally establish the Project Management Group immediately if this LIFE-IP funding application is successful. The Project Management Group will develop an overarching project plan and specify the requirements, tasks and deliverables for the procurement of the Project Team.

The Project Management Group will manage the Project Team on an ongoing basis, in terms of project planning, implementation, management and monitoring. To that end, the Project Management Group will utilise a variety of staff members with key skill sets from each Beneficiary, as and when required. It is expected that there will be at least one Project Management Group meeting per year, the frequency and subject of Project Management Group meetings will be task driven.

The Project Leader will report regularly to the Project Management Group, with other Project Team members reporting and attending meetings as and when required.

Project Team:

A dedicated, multi-disciplinary, four person core Waters of Life Project Team comprising a Project Team Leader, Project Scientific Advisor, Project GIS/data Advisor and Project Administrator will be appointed by the Co-ordinating Beneficiary for the duration of the project. Each of the Project core Team members will be full time (fixed-term temporary, whole-time contracts) with the exception of the Project Administrator, who will work half time. The core team will be based in a dedicated project office. Project Catchment Scientist/Ecologists will be engaged in the project on a regional basis at the phase 2 implementation stage within the selected catchments. The regional Catchment Scientist/Ecologists will be placed in offices in the selected demonstration catchments.

F.2: Development of the project data management systems

In the early stages of the project, the Project Team will establish an appropriate data management system for the project. The system will be used to manage all project data, including project reports, publications, financial information, measures implementation plans and other data. The data management system will allow information to be easily stored, retrieved, updated and analysed by the Project Team throughout the project.

The Waters of Life Project will generate a significant amount of practical information on the management of farms and forests and the implementation and monitoring of concrete High Status actions on project sites. This information will have a broad spatial, temporal and thematic spread and will be captured in Geographic Information System (GIS) and other relevant formats.

All data generated but the project, including supporting assessments of high status sites trends and pressures will be input to the project database.

This system will be compatible with the Co-ordinating Beneficiaries existing data management and GIS systems. These databases will be continually updated and added to by the Project Team throughout the duration of the project.

This activity will be conducted by the core project team and appropriate scientific support, located within the regional offices.

This action will be continual from the start of the project on until the end of the project.

The Waters of Life will generate significant quantities of information, reports and data in a number of formats. A readily accessible integrated data management system is necessary to securely store these data and to maximise their potential use. The system will allow data to be easily stored, retrieved, updated and analysed by the Project Team throughout the project.

The Geographic Information System will be the key, central hub to ensure information generated by the preparatory, the concrete implementation and the monitoring actions (A, C and D Actions) are stored and used effectively. GIS are commonly used in catchment management, where mapping of the location and extent of features is required, as well as the integration of many different data sets. The GIS will be used to identify critical source areas for sediment and nutrient losses that are key drivers of the impacts on high status sites and also their associated water-dependant protected species and habitats.

The GIS will also allow the rapid production of maps for project sites. Maps are a key, efficient tool in measures implementation planning. The GIS will also be very important in increasing public awareness and understanding of High Status and the project, in the dissemination of project results (E Actions), and in reporting (F Actions).

F.3: Project and Financial Management and Reporting (including Annual reports, End of Project Report and Recommendations, and independent audit)


Early establishment of a detailed monitoring programme to measure project progress;
An end of project report;
Non- technical summary project report;
An independent financial audit of the Waters of Life project – Auditor’s report

– End of Project Reporting completed including Final Audit Report by 31/12/2026.

Download full project details here:

Management Strategies for the Protection of High Status Water Bodies


The EPA commissioned research in this area to

  • review existing legislation relevant to the protection and management of high status sites
  • review international best practice on protecting these sites; and
  • recommend new approaches to ensuring that high status water bodies remain at high status.

The report proposes key strategies to protect & manage high status waters.

AIE Request: Coillte Felling, Operational Monitoring and Environmental Risk Assessments (LM02-FL0026, Co. Leitrim)

Complaint of water quality arising from Forestry Felling at Derrynahimmirk, Co. Leitrim

Complaint number: EMIS 15723

Complaint received from Rural Water in relation to contamination of drinking water (well supply) supply serving 3 houses and land connection, contamination possible because of works on nearby forestry.

The Derrynahimmirk stream is a map marked watercourse and is hydrologically connected to the Lough Melvin SAC.

The Derrynahimmirk stream rises from agricultural land to South and discharges through the felled zone where, beyond the forestry site, it converges with the Glenaniff River before discharging to Lough Melvin. Due to the Glenaniff River’s drop from High to Good Status it forms part of the Blue Dot Catchments Programme, a collaborative initiative for the protection and restoration of rivers and lakes that have deteriorated since the 1st River basin management cycle in 2007

Leitrim County Council served Section 12 Water Pollution Notice on Coillte

“(1) All information held by or for Coillte related to Tree Felling Licence LM02-FL0026, Co. Leitrim generated post issue of the licence. This includes correspondence with DAFM, Contractors, Local Authority, Stakeholders and other relevant parties. It also includes Operational Monitoring Records.

In addition
2) Environmental Risk Assessments carried out including any site inspection reports.”


Coillte’s self-assessment Operational Monitoring Records indicate 100% audit compliance.

Leitrim Country Council’s site inspection report indicates otherwise.

The Council inspection resulted in a Section 12 Water Pollution Notice being served.

The site is hydrologically connected to Lough Melvin SAC.

Coillte did not identify or report this issue. It stemmed from local complaints.

Avonmore_SC_010 Sub Catchment: AIE to Coillte

AIE request 20220132

I refer to the request you made under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011, S.I. 615 of 2014 and S.I. No. 309 of 2018) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations) for access to information held by Coillte relating to all works (e.g. afforestation, felling, roads – including repairs and maintenance in addition to
new road works and road upgrade works) undertaken by Coillte during the period from 31 December 2021 to the date of your reply, in any part of the area referred to as Avonmore_SC_010 Sub Catchment in the EU funded Waters of LIFE Project (launched 3 May 2022):

  1. A copy of all Harvest Plans (including any Harvest Plans pre-dating 31 December 2021 but relating to any works (or part of works) being undertaken after 31 December 2021).
  2. A copy of all Operational Monitoring Records (including any Operational Monitoring Records pre-dating 31 December 2021 but relating to any works (or part of works) being undertaken after 31 December 2021).
  3. Details of any interactions and copies of all relevant records /correspondence (all media) with Inland Fisheries Ireland (‘IFI’) during the period from 31 December 2021 to the date of your reply.
  4. Details of any water related incidents connected with, and /or alleged to be connected with, any Coillte operations during the period from 31 December 2021 to the date of your reply

Manifestly unreasonable

Under Article 9(2)(a) of the AIE Regulations, where a request is manifestly unreasonable having regard to the volume or range of information sought, a public authority may refuse to make environmental information available.

As the decision maker assigned to your application, it is my opinion that your request, as currently worded, is manifestly unreasonable having regard to the volume or range of information sought. Your request as currently phrased would, in my opinion, place an unreasonable demand on Coillte’s resources and/or would disrupt its ability to perform its core functions.

All of the following refinements should be considered:
• Reduce the time period for which you seek the information (3 months).
• Limit the catchment area to Avonmore OR Graney (I note your AIE our reference: 20220131 looks for similar information for the Graney catchment.)
• Limit your request to a forest operation, for example harvesting only

Information and Data Protection Officer
Coillte CGA

Blue Dot Catchments Programme Work Programme: River Basin Management Plan 2018 -2021


The work programme for the Blue Dot Catchments Programme for implementation during the 2nd cycle River Basin Management Plan was adopted by the Steering Group on 26th of September 2019.

The Programme objectives are:

1. Agree a vision for the protection and restoration of high status waters in Ireland.
2. Determine what constitutes a Blue Dot water body / site / catchment, and agree on a spatial network of high status waters in Ireland.
3. Agree branding for high status / blue dot waters.
4. Prepare a communications and engagement plan.
5. Establish pilot projects for community engagement and action.
6. Work together with the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government1 to establish appropriate planning guidance for the protection of Blue Dot waters.
7. Influence national schemes and programmes which can prioritise the protection and
restoration of Blue Dot waters.
8. Assist in improving the exchange of information within and between local and public
authorities and with Government Departments.
9. Consider areas where further research is required.
10. Review proposals for site specific measures for high status objective water bodies from
LAWPROs work programme and the LIFE IP (if successful).
11. Contribute to the development of a long term strategy for high status waters

An estimated work programme budget is presented

Forestry pressures on the Avonmore

Avonmore_SC_010 sub catchment

The sub catchment has an area of 141kmand is made up of six water bodies.  It captures all the streams, rivers and lakes that form headwaters to the Avonmore River. It starts in northeast parts of the Wicklow Mountains with Cloghoge and Inchavore Rivers that flow through Lough Tay and Lough Dan to form the Avonmore River. The river then flows south through Annamoe village down to Laragh village, where it meets Glenmacnass River that also rose in the Wicklow Mountains.

Two of the water bodies that make up the sub catchment are are Blue Dot rivers: Avonmore_010 and Avonmore_020, and have a high status objective. Both have fallen to good status and are considered to be at risk of not meeting their objective under the River Basin Management Plan.  Historically these rivers have been at high ecological status which means they have the potential to achieve and maintain high conditions. With the change down to good ecological status we know that these rivers are at stress and need action for the restoration. However, it should also be noted that a third waterbody in the sub catchment has improved to high status and has been high during two monitoring cycles.

The significant pressures in the catchment are forestry and agriculture. This catchment was chosen in consultation with Coillte and the Forest Service as there is likely to be significant forestry activity in the area during the life of the project and will allow appropriate management strategies for high status areas to be developed.


Rough figures for Avonmore Sub Catchment

Forestry Total 340624.1%

Sample site: WW03-FL0080 

Ballinrush, Carrigroe, Wicklow

Type: Coillte Clearfell

Licence Id: WW03-FL0080

Area: 10.08ha

Status: Approved
Date Received: 15-Mar–2021
Date Advertised: 19-Mar–2021
Date Approved/Refused: 01-Sep–2021
Location: Wicklow


Tree Felling Licence issued WW03-FL0080 under Forestry Act 2014

The licensee shall, within a period of 2 years from the end of the harvesting operations carried out under the authority conferred by this licence, carry out the replanting operations.

Species: Sitka Spruce

Percentage: 100%

Stems per Ha: 2500

Urea should not be applied to stumps with the buffer zones

The applicant must adhere to the mitigation measures specified in the Attached Appropriate Assessment Determination Document

Ground stability should be kept under constant review, the felling operation must not create unstable ground conditions or result in post harvesting ground instability.

Appropriate Assessment Determination

Screened In European Sites:

➢ Wicklow Mountains SAC IE0002122: Possible effect due to the location of the project within the Natura site.
➢ Wicklow Mountains SPA IE0004040: Possible effect due to the location of the project within this European site.

The applicant submitted a Natura Impact Statement (completed 14/07/2021) to facilitate the Minister carrying out an appropriate assessment. Niall Phelan, Principal Consultant, Environmental Facilitation Ltd, acting on behalf of the DAFM, subsequently evaluated the submitted NIS.

In relation to Merlin, the following mitigation is required, presented in the form of conditions to be attached to any licence:
A) No Felling or other forestry operations associated with this licence shall take place during the period 1st March to 31st August inclusive, within 100 metres of the forest edge, where such forest edge is immediately adjacent to moors, heathland, peat bogs or natural grassland; or within 100 metres of a clearing in the forest of larger than one hectare. Such operations can commence in sections of the project area furthest away from the 100 metre exclusion zone. Such operations can progress towards this exclusion zone but can only enter it during the period 1st September to 29th February inclusive.

In relation to Merlin and Peregrine, the following mitigation is required, presented in the form of conditions to be attached to any licence:

A) Retain existing scrub on site, to maximise opportunities for prey species.

B) Broadleaves / diverse conifers should be planted along the northwest boundary in an undulating fashion to create a sequence of varying spaces. Sharply defined edges should be avoided to create a gradual transition from forest to open ground. The minimum initial planting density required is 1,100 stems / ha.

In relation to the protection of adjoining / downstream aquatic based species and habitat, the following mitigation is required, presented in the form of conditions to be attached to any licence issued:

A) All operators will be provided with an up to date harvest plan and will be appropriately briefed on all of the conditions set out in the determination.

B) Demarcations will be set out at all sensitive points in the project to ensure machinery does not unintentionally traverse into exclusion zones.

C) Prior to harvesting, all water related hotspots and abstraction points (as defined in Circular 12/2017 and marked on the Harvest Plan submitted for this file) shall be identified on the ground and a clearly marked machinery exclusion zone of 10 metres shall be established around them.

D) Drains must always clearly stop short of buffer zones. If an existing drain has a preferential flow path (effectively discharging directly into aquatic zone or relevant watercourse), use sediment traps or drain blocking as appropriate. Additional sediment traps should be considered where the setback is deemed ineffective. E.g. if not vegetated or where the sediment traps are not fully functional.

E) Relevant operations must cease during and after periods of rainfall sufficiently heavy to result in the loss of nutrients and/or the mobilisation of sediment, fine organic matter and debris into receiving waters. Ground conditions must be monitored during rainfall, and records of such monitoring and of any resulting operational adjustments and postponements must be kept for possible inspection.

F) No water related hotspot (as defined in Circular 12/2017) shall be directly traversed by any machine.

G) Machinery crossing of internal drains shall be minimised and only be undertaken with the use of appropriate log bridges. With respect to temporary crossings, these shall avoid localised wet and/or hollows banks. Drain banks will not be disturbed during construction. Construction will involve a combination of logs and plastic piping, with a protective brash layer placed on top to catch silt and sediment dropping off machine tracks.

H) Extraction routes are to be planned to avoid hotspots and ensure that individual routes are not used excessively during harvesting operations. Locate timber landing bays at least 50m from the nearest aquatic zone.

I) Brash and branch wood is to be utilised to create and maintain brash mats along all machine routes during harvesting operations at all times.

J) Extra brash will be applied along main extraction racks and at timber stacking areas, to accommodate higher levels of machine tracking, including the use of extra lengths of timber to prevent soil disturbance.

K) Loose brash and lop-&-top will be carefully removed from exclusion zones as and when they fall/ stray into these areas.

L) With respect to temporary crossings, these shall avoid localised wet and/or hollow banks. Drain banks will not be disturbed during construction. Construction will involve a combination of logs and plastic piping, with a protective brash layer placed on top to catch silt and sediment dropping off machine tracks. These will be carefully removed when no longer needed, carefully avoiding sediment release with their removal.

M) Silt traps to adhere to the specifications set out in the Interim Standards for Felling & Reforestation (see Section 7 (or similar), are to be installed before operations commence onsite, and are to be monitored and maintained throughout operations. Any build-up of captured sediment is to be removed and deposited on the forest floor at least 5m from the relevant watercourse.

N) Small logs will be deployed to control movement of silt/sediment in critical areas and throughout site where necessary, as shown in Section 7 of the Standards for Felling & Reforestation (DAFM,2019).

O) Historic mound drains with direct connectivity to relevant watercourse or aquatic zones must be identified prior to commencement of operations. These pathways must be blocked.

P) Rutting must not be permitted to develop from machine trafficking with machine movement and ground conditions monitored throughout operations to ensure soil rutting and the creation of potential pathways for the movement of water do not develop.

Q) Roadside drains must never discharge directly into aquatic zones or relevant watercourses. As with all drainage channels they must taper out before entering the buffer zone. Where deemed necessary, install sediment traps at the intervals along drainage channels to intercept sediment and needles.

R) Maintenance of internal and roadside sediment traps is essential. Inspect periodically to ensure they are free of debris and sediment, undertaking remedial action if necessary. Grassy vegetation in drains is not to be removed as this will filter sediment as water percolates through it.

S) Plants will only be treated with approved insecticide acetamiprid off-site in the nursery, approved by Pesticide Registration and Control Division, DAFM. Any on-site application will only be undertaken following an appraisal using the Integrated Pest Management Policy and applied by manual spot spraying only.

T) Any herbicide such as glyphosate will only be applied by manual spot spraying on local competing vegetation that threaten the survival of the tree following an appraisal through the Integrated Pest Management Policy.

U) As set out in the NIS, fertiliser application will be manual and restricted to elemental phosphate at no more than 42 kgs/ha to support the establishment and growth of newly-planted trees.

V) Chemicals must only be used during dry weather and must only be used in accordance with S.I. 155 of 2012. Store and prepare all chemicals, fuel and machine oils, and undertake all machine refuelling, maintenance and repair, at a dry, elevated location onsite at least 50 m from the nearest aquatic zone or relevant watercourse.

W) Inspect all protective measures periodically to ensure continued functionality throughout operations.

Adhere to all water protection measure guidance relating to sediment management, felling, cultivation, herbicide application, the location of onsite storage depots and the disposal of waste including: Environmental Requirements for Afforestation, December 2016 (DAFM, 2016), Forestry Standards Manual (DAFM, 2015), Felling & Reforestation Standards (v. Oct. 2019) (see Forest Service Circular 14 / 2019), Forestry and Otter guidelines (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 2009.

The basis for this AA Determination is as follows:

This 10.08ha clearfell and reforestation project is located on peaty podzols on a steep slope. The project area lies within the Wicklow Mountains SPA and directly adjacent to the Wicklow Mountains SAC. The project area consists entirely of Sitka Spruce. Small pockets of open area occur within the project area. There are no aquatic features within or adjacent to the project area.

However, the project area is located on a steep slope, sloping towards Lough Dan (located approx. 150m west). Live validated records of freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) were noted <3km downstream however, the records were noted downstream from Lough Dan. Appropriate aquatic zone and watercourse measure protections have been set out including specific otter measures and good practice aquatic measures for the relevant designated features. The above conditions in combination, along with strict adherence to the guidance cited, will eliminate pathways of impact of significance to European sites.

Appropriate Assessment Screening Report & Determination for felling and reforestation project WW03-FL0080, at Ballinrush & Carrigroe, Co. Wicklow

Soil: The underlying soil type is: podzols (peaty)/lithosols/peats (100%)

The project lies between Avonmore_020 (100%)m and Avonmore_Sc_010 (100%)m

Slope: Steep 15-30%

Reforestation: SS (100%)@2500

SAC site:

In Combination

Other Forestry Plans and Projects:

Data from DAFM’s internal records identified various forestry-related projects (either submitted and still under evaluation, with valid licences / approval in place or completed and approved) in the general vicinity of the project

Afforestation Projects

Forest Road Projects

Private Felling Licence Projects

Coillte Felling Licence Projects

This project lies in a rural landscape in Ballinrush,Carrigroe, Wicklow in the River Sub-Basin AVONMORE_020. The River Sub-Basin AVONMORE_020 has approximately 36% forest cover, which is higher than the national average of 11%. At 10.08ha the project is considered medium in scale.

Forestry activity (including afforestation, forest roading and felling) within the sub-basin which have either been submitted and still under evaluation, licenced / approved or completed in the last 5 years, are listed above.

Appropriate Assessment Pre-Screening Report for Clearfell and Reforestation project WW03-FL0080, located at Ballinrush and Carrigroe, Co. Wicklow

NPWS Referral

The Wicklow Mountains SPA is of high ornithological importance as it supports nationally important
populations of Merlin, a species that is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive, and has been recorded breeding near the site of this proposed forestry operation.

As such, all forestry operations should take place outside of the breeding season for these species – 1st March until 31st August

IFI Referral

Ground stability should be kept under constant review, the felling operation must not create unstable ground conditions or result in post harvesting ground instability

Local Authority (Wicklow Co Co) Referral

Very steep location on peat with very soft water – acid sensitive – consider replant with native species rather than non native conifer monoculture

IFI Referral


Felling Licence Application Map


Wicklow CoCo recommended re-stocking with native species;

“Very steep location on peat with very soft water – acid sensitive – consider replant with native species rather than non native conifer monoculture.”

Licence is for 100% re-stock with Sitka

NPWS submission includes:

The proposed felling area is entirely within the Wicklow Mountains Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds (Site Code 004040). The Wicklow Mountains SPA is of high ornithological importance as it supports nationally important populations of Merlin, a species that is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive, and has been recorded breeding near the site of this proposed forestry operation. As such, all forestry operations should take place outside of the breeding season for these species – 1st March until 31st August.

Licence is not nearly as restrictive  

No Felling or other forestry operations associated with this licence shall take place during the period 1st March to 31st August inclusive, within 100 metres of the forest edge, where such forest edge is immediately adjacent to moors, heathland, peat bogs or natural grassland; or within 100 metres of a clearing in the forest of larger than one hectare. Such operations can commence in sections of the project area furthest away from the 100 metre exclusion zone. Such operations can progress towards this exclusion zone but can only enter it during the period 1st September to 29th February inclusive.

Reason: In the interest of protecting the Special Conservation Interest of the Wicklow Mountains SPA as per the Appropriate Assessment determination for WW03-FL0080.


  • Forestry Service can disregard the recommendations of prescribed bodies
  • Most licences are published on the FLV. View the AA Determination where an AA has been conducted as that will contain mitigation conditions which will be referred to in the licence.
  • Key document is the (Interim) Standards for Felling and Reforestation – this is DAFM’s Standards document which details the main criteria that need to be adhered to.
  • There are certain areas where forestry operators regularly fall down – brash management, rutting, functioning silt traps, failure to remove materials from the site (used oil cans, disposable gloves, etc);
  • Some operators are now using paper bags to transport the re-stock trees. These bags are often left on site to rot down but Sitka Spruce are pre-dipped with chemical at the nursery so the bags could be chemically contaminated.
  • Felling licences should have Harvest Plans – private licences would usually have these on the FLV but Coillte does not submit Harvest Plans with its applications. They currently need to be sought from Coillte via AIE
  • Two important reference documents are the Irish PEFC and FSC National Standards. These are only relevant to forestry operations that are certified but this includes most big players

Blue Dots Programme: Steering Committee

The protection of high-status water bodies is one of the main priorities of the current River Basin Management Plan.

The Plan sets out several actions to protect and improve high status waters including the establishment of a blue dot catchment programme.

A coordinator for the programme has been appointed by LAWPRO and a steering committee established, chaired by Kerry County Council.

Blue Dot National Steering Group had its inaugural meeting in January 2019.

Chairman: John Breen, Director of Services for Water, Environment, Fire and Library Services, Kerry County Council

Members unknown but representatives from:

Blue Dot Working Group
Local Authority Waters Programme
Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Kerry County Council
Wicklow County Council
Donegal County Council
Mayo County Council
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – Agriculture & Forest Service
Environmental Protection Agency
Irish Water
National Parks and Wildlife Service
Office of Public Works

The Steering Group met three times between January and May 2019.

Work programme drafted and presented for review to the Steering Group and other bodies for feedback in 2019.

Adopted the work programme in September 2019

“Visioning” workshop was held on 5th March 2020

LAWPRO have also formed an internal Blue Dot working group to support the role of the Blue Dot Scientist and develop guidance on local catchment assessments in high status objective water bodies.


Dear AIE Officer

The Blue Dot Catchments Programme aims to protect and restore high status waters in Ireland

Request under the AIE Regulations for an electronic copy of the following documentation

1) List of members of the Blue Dots Programme Steering Committee (Chaired by John Breen, Kerry CoCo)

2) Agendas/minutes of the meetings of the Blue Dot steering committee for 2021-2022

3) Work programme as adopted for 2021-22


This AIE has been cc’d to Kerry CoCo and Tipperary CoCo as unclear which authority is the appropriate authority for managing the Blue Dot programme

Blue Dot Steering Group Minutes

Update on Red Dot+ Programme presented by EPA

Proposed Red Dot approach is to identify where there are issues, notify the relevant ROCs, and then investigate and address the issues
• 8 site notifications in 2020: 2 red dot sites (Ara and Sruhanagarve), 3 toxic impact sites (all on the Dawros river), 1 fish kill site (Nore) and 2 sites that declined by two status classes (Carhoo and Camlin).
• End of 2016-2018, there were seven red dot sites. All have improved but remain unsatisfactory (6 poor and 1 moderate).
• The 2 new Red Dot sites in 2019 improved to Poor in 2020.
• 2 new Red Dot sites in 2020

Forest Service: planning to join a field assessment following a Red Dot notification in Longford in an area with forestry.

RED DOT + Notifications 2020 update
Dr Catherine Bradley, Ecological Monitoring & Assessment Unit, Environmental Protection Agency

Blue Dot Communications and Engagement Plan

Incorporating Blue Dot into Community & RBMP operational work

Presentation: Wild Western Peatlands (Coillte)

Shortlisted Sites
01 Glentornan Co. Donegal
02 Glennamong, Co. Mayo
03 Derryclare, Co. Galway
04 Cappaghoosh, Co. Galway
05 Derrynafulla, Co. Cork

Blue Dot Forestry

Ken Bucke, Forestry Inspector, DAFM

11% of total land area, aiming for 18% by 2046

Almost half of forests (49.2%) in private ownership (21,000 owners, 85% of which are farmers)

Export-oriented forest products sector, with over 80% of wood-based panels being exported

Coillte is the major forest owner in Blue Dot catchments

Waters of Life -IP
Blue Dot Steering Committee Meeting 3rd Dec 2021

Blue Dot Scientist’s Updates (Dec 2021)

64 Blue Dots across 45 PAA
– 13 returned to high Ecological Status 13-18
– 4 returned to High Biological Status, failing for Hymo (1 lake also for total phosphorous)
• LCA complete in 34 waterbodies
• 18 Blue Dots have ASSAP referrals
• 6 Blue Dots have referrals for other bodies on the app
• ~ 10 Protect referrals for Forestry

– Close to even split between the three main pressures, Hymo, Ag and Forestry

Maximising the potential of the LEADER for Blue dot catchment management

Allow Project – Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchments

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2019
End date2023

This project aims to restore the high ecological status of the River Allow, a high-status objective waterbody in an agricultural catchment in Duhallow, Co Cork.

The objectives are to:

Restore &; protect the high status river through integrated catchment management.

Deliver a results-based payment scheme for farmers.

Implement actions designed to improve water quality, restore habitats, enhance biodiversity &; reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Develop an on-farm citizen science approach with farmers.

Increase community knowledge &; appreciation.

Inform national policy &; best practice.

Up to 100 farmers will participate in enhancing and restoring freshwater and terrestrial habitats on their farms. Farm specific management plans will be developed in close association with the farmer; including measures designed to improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and reduce GHGs. Measures will be based on the source-pathway-receptor model, reducing contaminants at source, intercepting them before reaching the river and restoring impacted habitats. A results-based payment system will reward participating farmers for improving & maintaining the nature value of their farms. Knowledge exchange programmes will empower farmers & increase environmental awareness.

The River Allow is part of the Blackwater SAC, designated for the conservation of freshwater habitats &; species. It is a high status objective river as defined by the Water Framework Directive. Agriculture is a significant pressure in the catchment &; the river is considered to be at risk of not achieving its high status objective. The protection of high status rivers is a national priority &; the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland proposes the “Blue Dot” programme as a measure to provide a structure towards their conservation &; management. The Allow Project will pilot the Blue Dot programme, developing an integrated catchment management system appropriate for agricultural catchments &; inform policy.

Additional information: 

The project proposes to take a farmer-focused approach following a rural development model, which provides the framework for both practical support on the ground coupled with farmer-led knowledge exchange. Key to this will be the involvement of farmers who have already participated in agri-environment schemes, conservation programmes (e.g. EU LIFE) &; research programmes relevant to high status waters. Building on learned experience &; knowledge exchange the project will develop an integrated catchment management model for the implementation of the Blue Dot programme in agricultural regions

Expected benefits include:

•          Integrated catchment approach involving all actors in the protection of Blue Dot catchments with farmers centre stage.

•          A results-based farmer-led strategy &; suite of suitable measures developed for the restoration of high status rivers in agricultural catchments.

•          Economic security in sustainable agriculture through a results based payment scheme.

•          Improvement in water quality within the targeted objective high status sites.

•          Enhanced biodiversity value of farmland habitats and promotion of high nature value farming.

•          Improved conservation status of the Blackwater SAC.

•          Better energy &; nutrient management with reduction of greenhouse gas &; nutrient emissions.

•          Practical guidance &; knowledge enhancement for policy makers, agencies and stakeholders.

•          Greater community appreciation and knowledge of the importance of high status rivers.

•          Farmers trained as citizen scientists &; empowered to make sustainable choices in agricultural practices.

•          Certification for agricultural contractors who uphold the Blue Dot standard for farming in high status catchments.

Additional comments: 

The measures of the Allow Project are intended to protect watercourses from farm-related pollution with the overarching aim being to protect and, where necessary, restore the high status of the Allow catchment. Following the source-pathway-receptor continuum, a variety of measures will be implemented to reduce sediment and nutrients at source, intercept mobile contaminants and restore river habitats. In order to monitor the effectiveness of these individual measures and the overall impact of the project on catchment status, a combination of biological and physiochemical monitoring approaches combined with a citizen science initiative will be implemented. A number of strategically selected monitoring locations will be established within the catchment in order to gather the necessary baseline data. Annual monitoring at the selected locations will take place in order to assess any longitudinal changes in catchment status over the course of the project. Parameters measured will include water quality, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants, birds, fish and terrestrial biodiversity such as pollinators. This will be complimented by a citizen science initiative where participating farmers will be trained in monitoring the effectiveness of their actions.

Contact person: Maura Walsh

Address: IRD Duhallow, James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co. Cork.


Phone: +353 (029) 60633

Protection and restoration of high status water bodies – Blue dot catchments programme : technical assistance


LIFE17 TAE/IE/000007

Start Date: 01/01/2018
End Date: 30/06/2019
Total Budget: 299,573 €
EU Contribution: 100,000 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Department of Housing, planning and local government
Legal Status: PUBLIC
Address: Custom House, 1, Dublin, Ireland
Contact Person: Donal GRANT
Tel: +353868107813