Waters of LIFE project (Euro20m across six catchments)

The total budget under this LIFE Integrated project is €20,369,805 of which €9,500,000 has been committed by the European Union

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/e6578-20-million-waters-of-life-project-to-protect-six-of-irelands-pristine-river-catchments/#

Lee_SC_060 Sub Catchment (Shournagh)

The sub catchment has an area of approximately 130km2.  Three of the five sub basins which make up the sub catchment have a high status objective, with the other two inputting into these and so potentially impacting on their status.

None of the three high status objective water bodies in this sub catchment are currently meeting their objective: one has fallen to good status and two to moderate status in the last monitoring cycle.  All three are considered to be at risk of not meeting their objectives under the River Basin Management Plan.

The significant pressures which have been identified on these water bodies are: agriculture, hydromorphology, urban waste water, domestic waste water and urban runoff.

Soils in this catchment are free draining, which is somewhat unusual in the context of high status objective rivers.  The pollution impact potential (PIP) maps produced by the EPA show very high PIP for nitrate and very low PIP for phosphorus.

Blackwater_SC_060 Sub Catchment (Awbeg)

This is the sub catchment of a river called the Awbeg (but not the one that flows through Buttevant) which rises to the South of Liscarroll in Co. Cork and flows Southwards to join the main channel of the Blackwater East of Banteer also in Co. Cork.

The catchment has an area of approx. 80km².  Both the water bodies that make up the demonstration catchment have a high status objective. However, one has fallen to good status for the last two monitoring cycles, the other is not monitored, but has recently been assigned a predicted status of high by the EPA.

The geology in the area is quite mixed consisting of sandstone, mudstone and karst areas. Large areas have locally and regionally important aquifers.  Soil drainage is also mixed with both well and poorly draining areas and generally acid mineral soils. Diffuse pollution pathways are similarly mixed with surface runoff in poorly draining areas, shallow to deep subsurface flow in areas of well draining soils depending on the fracturing of bedrock or presence of karst and potential for direct inputs via karst features.

The significant pressures in this area are agriculture and hydromorphology. The catchment has a mix of areas which are considered high pollution impact for both phosphorus and nitrate.

Suck_SC_020 Catchment (The Island River)

The sub catchment has an area of approximately 145km2. Of the seven water bodies in this sub catchment, only one has a high status objective. However, five of the remaining are upstream of this waterbody and therefore activities in these sub basins have the potential to impact on it.  The high status objective waterbody is currently failing to meet its objective and has fallen to good status in the last two monitoring cycles.  It is considered to be at risk of failing to meet the high status objective which has been set for it in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland.

The significant pressure on the high status objective water body is reported as urban waste water, but agriculture and hydromorphology are significant pressures in some of the upstream waterbodies.

There are areas of high pollution impact for phosphorus in the sub catchment along with a high proportion of peat soils.

Graney_SC_010 Sub Catchment

Of the eight water bodies in the Graney_010 sub catchment only three have a high status objective and only one is currently meeting its objective. The other two have fallen to good status and are considered to be failing to meet their objective under the River Basin Management Plan.

Blanket peat mainly overlies the sedimentary geology in this catchment. It is these peatlands that help regulate climate, control and purify water flows as well as supporting terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. However, protection and in some instances, restoration is required to maintain the quality of these services.

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.  This will allow appropriate management strategies for high status areas to be developed.

Avonmore_SC_010 sub catchment

The sub catchment has an area of 141km2 and 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.

Note: the Sheen is flagged by the project not at risk, and is included as a control

Sheen_SC_010 Sub Catchment

This sub catchment has an area of 100.5 km2.  There are four waterbodies that make up the Sheen_SC_010 sub catchment, three of which have been given a high-status objective under the Water Framework Directive. It is important that high status is maintained and that there is no decline in water quality or status.  The majority of the sub catchment is at high status and is considered to be not at risk of failing to meet its River Basin Management Plan objective.

The soil type across most of the sub catchment is poorly draining peat and mineral soils, overlying relatively poorly productive bedrock. Better draining soils can be found on the lower slopes and lower lying areas in the river valleys of the Sheen River and its tributaries.

As part of the Waters of LIFE Project, the Sheen River sub catchment has been chosen as a ‘control’ catchment and will be used to explore the protect function.  The focus here will be on understanding how high status is currently being maintained and to identify any potential threats to water quality and status through field surveys and monitoring.  In this sub catchment, the project will: monitor water quality; monitor land use change and; raise awareness of the importance of high status water bodies.

Results Based Payment Scheme for WaterLANDS project

LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature

LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is a 9-year project Coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage aimed at conservation and management of Ireland’s Natura 2000 network, with a special focus on blanket bog. The project covers over 250,000ha of Natura 2000 lands, comprising primarily blanket bogs and associated peatland habitats. In many cases lands contiguous with, but outside of, the Natura 2000 network provide an essential function in supporting the achievement of the Conservation Objectives of the sites themselves.


The primary target of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is delivery of the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for Ireland in general, and blanket bog specifically. The project aims to deliver benefits to associated habitats, species and local communities, in addition to being significantly climate and water quality related. Among other activities, the project is demonstrating the Results-Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) approach and developing its roll-out to deliver conservation actions on the ground. The RBPS principles that have been developed and put into practice in similar programmes (e.g. Burren Programme; Pearl Mussel Project EIP) are being used and adapted to work with and for the farmers of the northwest of Ireland.

Another key remit of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is the mobilisation of complementary funding for associated activities to conserve and restore peatlands. As part of this remit, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature are a partner on a new Horizon 2020 funded project, WaterLANDS. WaterLANDS is a five-year project (2021-2026; budget €23.6m) which aims to enable an upscaling of the restoration of wetlands across Europe. LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature are responsible for one of the six WaterLANDS project ‘Action Sites’ at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC.


In LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature the work on developing RBPS was brought forward to 2021/2022 (from original proposal to commence in 2024) to ensure full preparation for the new CAP in 2023, with the support and advice of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM), who are an Associated Beneficiary on the LIFE project. It is expected that from 2023 the RBPS model will be delivered for farmers in the project areas via the CAP Agri-Environment, Climate Measures (AECMs), with full implementation due in January 2023.

The RBPS model used in Wild Atlantic Nature is a similar model that we are proposing to implement in the WaterLANDS project at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC in order to align policy and demonstrate best practice in wetland restoration. We envisage that this site would be used as a demonstrator for RBPS roll-out and associated restoration/conservation work. It is expected that testing and demonstrating an RBPS as proposed in WaterLANDS will deliver benefits for science, policy and practice and will generate significant new learning and knowledge, as well as providing concrete recommendations for wetland restoration, through CAP and otherwise. Indeed the European Court of Auditors call for member states to go the direction of using the RBPS approach to achieve higher environmental ambition.


The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage currently seek a contractor to coordinate a RBPS/restoration actions hybrid pilot as part of the WaterLANDS ‘Action Site’ at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC. This role involves delivering the RBPS pilot in 2022, coordinating conservation and restoration actions from 2023-2026, monitoring and evaluating the efficacy of actions and the potential for upscaling, liaising with participant farmers, farm advisors and local community groups and working closely with the WaterLANDS project team to deliver on the project objectives across several work packages. Some communication, dissemination and exploitation activities also form part of the role. WaterLANDS is funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement number 101036484.

Payments will depend on satisfactory progress with the following deliverables to the Wild Atlantic Nature project manager or other appointed team member:
Regular short update reports to the project team;
Regular update meeting with the Wild Atlantic Nature project manager;
Successful recruitment of RBPS participants (approx. 200 farmers);
Contributions, where required, to Work Packages 2 (Engaging Communities), 3 (Aligning Governance, and 4 (Mobilising Finance) of WaterLANDS as RBPS progresses
Integrate co-created best-practice (WP5) to optimise application of measures.
Successful undertaking of RBPS advisor and farmer training;
Coordination of RBPS surveying and monitoring programme;
Verification of RBPS farm scores;
Administration of farmer payments;
Administration of supporting actions and evaluation of their efficacy;
Liaison with farmers and agricultural advisors;
Education and liaison with local communities;
Data collection, analysis and reporting documents as required by WaterLANDS Task and Work Package Leads;
Feeding into Key Performance Indicators for Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE IP complementary funding projects;
Monitoring report on efficacy of RBPS & supporting actions;
Preparation of draft guidance documents for partners, farmers and advisors on:
o Overall RBPS project
o Habitat scoring
o Supporting actions
o Finance opportunities and governance arrangements
o Engaging communities


Milestones: RBPS delivered for approx. 200 farmers (December 2022)

Allow Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

August 2018

LAWPRO

The Allow is part of the Munster Blackwater SAC which contains Otter, Salmon, Shad, Lamprey and Freshwater Pearl Mussel among others.

The RaptorLife project and IRD Duhallow are active in area with the possibility of ongoing agri-environment projects.

The main risk of diffuse pollution is likely to be phosphate via overland flow as well as sedimentation from modified channels and drainage

Failing to meet protected area objectives for Freshwater Pearl Mussel (19 of 27 catchments of S.I. 296 2009)

Kanturk WWTP

North Cork Creameries Co-operative (Section 4 site) – licensed industry with chemistry indicating elevated levels of phosphate and ammonia

EPA file for North Cork Creameries Co-operative is here

https://epawebapp.epa.ie/licences/lic_eDMS/rss/P1051-01.xml

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/courts/north-cork-creameries-co-operative-pleads-guilty-to-polluting-allow-river-38524477.html

List of closed LIFE projects in Ireland: Request to EU for Final Project Reports

The Life Programme provides funding for the support of Environment, Nature Conservation and Climate Action projects throughout the European Union (EU). Any legal persons registered in the EU are eligible to apply, and applications are encouraged from public and private organisations seeking co-funding for projects. Large and small companies, local government and other public authorities, NGOs, Higher Education Institutes and community groups can participate. Every year a call for proposals is launched, and following competitive selection, awards are made that are typically in the range of €1 million to €5 million for projects with durations of three to five years.

The new LIFE Regulation 2021-2027 Regulation (EU) 2021/783 entered into force on 17 May 2021 and applies retroactively from 1 January 2021. The financial envelope for the programme under the new regulation is €5.432 billion, which represents a significant increase compared to the €3.46 billion available to the programme under the previous regulation.

Maximum EU co-financing rates for projects are 60%, 75% and 95%, depending on the project type and topic. The Multiannual Work Programme (MAWP) 2021-2024 and the 2021 Call Documentation are useful sources of information on project topics and policy areas. The eligibility criteria for the different project types are detailed in the MAWP 2021-2024 and the application guidelines published alongside each call.

The new LIFE programme has been expanded into four sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition.

Question

A large number of LIFE Projects funding in Ireland did not appear to have Public Final Reports

FOI style request submitted as an application to the EU for access to documents, to determine how many projects do have Public Final Reports

There have been a total of 59 LIFE Projects funded in Ireland

Of those 59, just 7 have public Final Reports

Final Reports generally have data on the project spec, location, dates, budgets, EU contribution, beneficiary, etc. Plus they report on key deliverables and outputs (actions, deadlines and when achieved vs deadlines)

Copies of the 7 Public Final Reports are attached below

Copies of Public Final Reports

Emissions ModElling and FoRecasting of Air in IreLanD

LIFE19 GIE/IE/001101

Start Date: 01/01/2021
End Date: 31/12/2023
Total Budget: 1,612,557 €
EU Contribution: 842,911 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Environmental Protection Agency
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Johnstown Castle, Y35 W821, Wexford, Ireland
Contact Person: Patrick Kenny
Email: P.Kenny@epa.ie
Tel: 003531268185
Website: http://www.epa.ie

BACKGROUND

The European Environment Agency (EEA) states that air pollution poses the biggest risk to environmental health in Europe. In Ireland, air pollution is estimated to cause 1 180 premature deaths a year. The Irish Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) recent improvements to monitoring and assessment has highlighted more individual exceedences than anticipated in both urban and rural areas. This emphasises the need to further investigate the extent of the air pollution, improve governance and take appropriate action. There are currently a number of issues and barriers relating to the assessment of air quality: (i) Ireland does not have an air quality forecasting system; (ii) TheEPA relies on a limited monitoring network for its real-time measurements and better resolution is needed to identify hotspots to allow for more accurate health exposure calculation and risk assessment to flora and fauna; (iii) There is a lack of sufficiently high quality, spatial, residential and traffic emission intensity data, which are required as input parameters to build urban scale air quality models; (iv) Irish citizens are increasingly aware of the negative impacts of air pollution and are demanding more information and action; and (v) There is an upsurge in the use of wood to heat homes, alongside a misunderstanding of what may constitute green fuel for home heating.

OBJECTIVES

The key goal of LIFE EMERALD is to strengthen air quality management in Ireland, to ensure effective implementation of the two complementary EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD) and to help implement the European Green Deal. The project will address the recommendations of the Clean Air Dialogue with Ireland, which was the EU review of air policy, ensuring that sufficient detailed information on air quality can be made available to citizens and stakeholders to accelerate decisions aimed at tackling air quality issues.

The main objectives are: Implementation and customisation of the LIFE ATMOSYS air quality modelling system, allowing the EPA to gain a better understanding of Irish air quality, to better advise its citizens and improve Irelands EU reporting obligations under the AAQD; Operational 3-day ambient air quality forecasting system to inform the public of predicted air quality, enable Irish authorities to take appropriate actions, and to provide near real-time air quality maps able to integrate monitoring data from low-cost sensors; Annual average high-resolution air pollutant maps, reliable health impacts to meet current/future reporting needs, and a customised air quality dashboard for internal/external use; Empower regional and local authorities responsible for air quality action plans, with improved/innovative tools and information regarding air pollution sources and hotspots, to ensure that cost-effective measures are taken; Strengthen awareness raising amongst the public, policymakers and stakeholders regarding the sources of air pollution, negative health effects and how effective measures can be implemented; and Encourage more dialogue between Irish stakeholders on the topic of air pollution, and transboundary international cooperation with neighbouring regions (UK and northern Europe), and more involvement at an EU level.

RESULTS

Expected results: Residential solid fuel inventory will survey approximately 1 000 people living in targeted areas, which will be tested using the EU Delta emissions tool to assess the impact; Setup of a new, operational 3-day ambient air quality forecasting/alerting system for Ireland which will be used by the EPA and city authorities in Dublin and Cork. It will provide better information for stakeholders, including local authorities who can trigger local measures; Detailed maps for NO2, PM10/PM2.5, O3, SO2 and NH3-N deposition to be used by EPA and five local authorities. These will be used by the EPA to fulfil reporting under law and by local authorities to assess local hotspots to trigger the implementation of measures to reduce air pollution; Increased awareness and active engagement of citizens (circa 1 000), resulting in more knowledge regarding their contribution to improving air quality; Customisation, implementation and installation of the ATMOSYS air quality management dashboard for Ireland, for continued use after the project end; Spatialrepresentativeness assessment of the Irish monitoring network, ensuring future network changes are in line with recommendations from recent EU studies; Significant reductions in air pollutants following the implementation of local air quality measures using the ATMOSYS system. This is expected to include: – NO2 concentration from 4.36 g/m3 (3 700 ton/year NOx) to 3.26 g/m3 (2 812 tons /year NOx) in the Dublin area; and – Particulate matter (PM10) concentration from 1.64 g/m3 (721 tonnes/year PM10) to 0.82 g/m3 (306 tonnes/year); – Approximately 100 000 citizens reached through social media, c. 300 000 via national TV, 300 000 visitors at large national events, 45 000 citizens see information boards, and an additional 1 500 leaflets circulated locally; – Raised awareness of the link between asthma, allergies and air pollution in the Irish public; – The ATMOSYS modelling tools will enable Ireland to participate fully in the EU FAIRMODE exercises, as well as future proofing the e-reporting system for modelling and compliance with future European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) standards.

LIFE IP Peatlands and People – Irelands Climate Action Catalyst

LIFE19 IPC/IE/000007

Start Date: 01/10/2020
End Date: 30/09/2027
Total Budget: 27,838,351 €
EU Contribution: 9,894,803 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Bord na Mona
Legal Status: PRIVATE
Address: Ireland
Contact Person: John MacNamara
Email: John.MacNamara@bnm.ie

https://peatlandsandpeople.ie/

BACKGROUND

Through the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19), the countrys Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has outlined 183 actions targeted at tackling climate change. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon energy systems for Irish society and in the process create a resilient, vibrant and sustainable country.

Peatlands and the communities around them in the Midlands region of Ireland are the countrys only Just Transition peatlands-based region. Ireland has a high proportion of Europes remaining peatlands, comprising almost 21% of the national land area, just under 1.5 million ha. This includes a variety of raised and blanket bogs, fens, and wet and dry heath many of which are recognised as priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive.

These peatlands have numerous values, including their potential as carbon sinks, along with manyother ecosystem services, and their significant level of biodiversity. Historically, Irelands peatlands were harvested predominantly for fuel. Industrial peat extraction and traditional and mechanical turf cutting have resulted in the loss of 47% of the original area of peatlands in Ireland over half a million hectares of land. Further, of the 1.475 million ha of peatlands in Ireland, approximately 80% are considered degraded. It is estimated that these degraded peatlands emit approximately 10 MtCO2eq each year.

Peatlands are embedded in Irelands culture and heritage, with a history of conflict and legal challenges. The involvement of multiple stakeholders and landowners, including communities, private landowners and public bodies, adds to the complicated task of restoring and protecting peatlands for their carbon storage, environmental and biodiversity potential.

OBJECTIVES

LIFE IP Peatlands and People will target the Irish Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP19). The project will use peatlands as a model to inspire behavioural change and build capacity and economy in a region of transition, catalysing the long-term implementation of the full plan. It will integrate actions from five sections of the CAP19: enterprise; agriculture, forestry and land use; waste and the circular economy; public sector leading by example; and citizen engagement, community leadership and just transition.

The project will collaborate locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to generate and share solutions, knowledge and content for a systemic transformation to a carbon neutral future using three pillars: a Peatlands Centre of Excellence; a Just Transition Accelerator; and a Peoples Discovery Attraction. LIFE IP Peatlands and People will engage and try to address the concerns of all stakeholders and in doing so help change perceptions of peat as solely a fuel source to instead viewing it as an important natural asset.

The projects key objectives are: Contribute towards the implementation of the CAP19; Best-practice restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands for the reduction of greenhouse gases and enhancing carbon storage potential, both in the integrated project and also of additional peatlands through complementary actions and dissemination activities; Development of a Just Transition Accelerator which will encourage economic growth in the Midlands through capacity building, job creation and new value chains; and Development of a Peoples Discovery Attraction which will significantly contribute to a more climate-literate society and help bring about behaviour change, as well as attract visitors to the Midlands and generate employment in the Midlands.

In addition to its own budget, the project hopes to facilitate the coordinated use of more than 127 million in complementary funding from public and private funds.

LIFE IP Peatlands and People will contribute to implementation of a wide range of international, EU and national legislation. At EU level, this includes: the biodiversity strategy for 2030; action plan for nature, people and the economy; numerous directives (the Birds, Habitats, Floods, Water Framework, Ambient Air Quality, Renewable Energy, Emissions Trading Scheme and Extractive Waste directives); the European Green Deal; Green InfrastructureEnhancing Europe’s Natural Capital; the circular economy action plan; the 2030 framework for climate and energy; and the LULUCF Regulation.

RESULTS

Expected results: Peatlands Centre of Excellence Restoration to favourable conservation status of Annex 1 (Habitats Directive) priority habitat on 2 900 ha of Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated raised bogs, with the aim of halting emissions and increasing carbon storage; Rehabilitation to an enhanced level of 7 000 ha of BnM-owned sites including high bog, marginal cutover and cutaway bogs, with the aim of carbon storage; Reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and improvement in air quality and reduction of emissions; Inform national GHG emission inventories and the development of policy and practice for the protection and rehabilitation of raised bogs; and Development of long-term rehabilitation and restoration demonstration and research sites to track ecosystem services benefits and to contribute to the Peatlands Centre of Excellence.

Just Transition Accelerator Development of the Just Transition Accelerator model for the Midlands region; Roadmap on approaching a low carbon economy for the Midlands region presented at three events; At least 20 companies progressively having advanced towards the next stage in their growth in order to deliver on decarbonisation solutions; and Additional funding, partnerships and support from outside entities in order to grow the Just Transition Accelerator.

Peoples Discovery Attraction A fully developed business plan and quantitated market for the Peoples Discovery Attraction, including financial, cost and revenue streams analysis; Feasibility study and options appraisal; A governing instrument for the Peoples Discovery Attraction; Confirmed site and planning permission secured; and Final detailed master plan for the Peoples Discovery Attraction.

Complementary actions Restoration/rehabilitation of 28 100 ha of peatlands (plus 9 900 ha within the project) and 40 000 ha of grasslands in Ireland; Further reductions in GHGs as more peatlands are restored/rehabilitated; Development of the Peoples Discovery Attraction into a self-sustaining business; and Development of the Just Transition Accelerator into a self-sustaining company.

LIFE-IP Waters of Life

LIFE18 IPE/IE/000003

Protect and restore high ecological status waterbodies in Ireland

Start Date: 01/11/2019
End Date: 31/12/2026
Total Budget: 20,369,805 €
EU Contribution: 9,500,000 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Legal Status: PUBLIC
Address: Ireland
Contact Person: Donal Grant
Email: donal.grant@housing.gov.ie

BACKGROUND

The loss of high-status waters has been identified as an important issue within Irelandand across Europe. The protection and restoration of these waters is one of the underpinning principles of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). This is recognised, with appropriate commitments, within Irelands second cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) which was prepared in accordance with the requirements of Article 13 of the WFD. The need to address the loss of high-status waters was identified as a significant water management issue during the RBMPs public consultations.

The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021 was published in April 2018 and sets out the measures to be implemented by 2021 to protect and improve the status of water bodies in the Irish River Basin District. This covers an area of 70 273 km2 and includes 140 designated bathing waters, 64 shellfish growing waters, 42 nutrient sensitive areas, and 358 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and 154 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) within the Natura 2000 network.

OBJECTIVES

The overall objective of LIFE-IP Waters of Life 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 in the RBMP 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 give particular emphasis to the following: building technical understanding and capacity in relation to the design and implementation of measures in a strategic and integrated way across a variety of key land-use pressures and activities to deliver effective solutions at a landscape/catchment-wide scale for the protection of high-status waters; promoting community and landowner ownership of the actions proposed and ensuring local community involvement in developing the land-use management actions to be implemented; making recommendations that will inform the development of future agri-environment and forestry policies and provide for the long-term sustainable management of high-status areas; enhancing public appreciation of the ecology, ecosystems and natural capital value of high-status waters and their catchments; developing and building synergies between measures implemented to address water quality considerations and related biodiversity objectives within the catchments of high-status waters, and; monitoring and demonstrating the effectiveness of the measures implemented.

In addition delivering Irelands obligations under the Water Framework Directive, the Waters of LIFE Project creates synergies with the objectives of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the Flood Directive with regard to water retention, and the Nitrates Directive with regard to diffuse pollution and water quality. The project is also relevant to the Industrial Emissions Directive, the Sewage Sludge Directive, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of 93 031 581 of complementary national and European funds through water and agri-environment projects and programmes.

RESULTS

Expected results: the number of high-status water bodies subject to intervention will be determined, and measures implemented on demonstration catchments across approximately 750 km2 of the Irish River Basin District, 25 000 ha of farmland, and 1 265 ha of privately and publicly owned forestry land; following implementation, it is expected that Ireland would successfully reverse the trend in the decline of high-status water bodies, with no deterioration in water quality due to interventions shown during water sampling.

Additional results will include: 1. Improved water conditions, with improved water quality of 138 Mm3 water/year, equal to 70% change of water by volume discharging annually from demonstration catchments, and improved resilience to climate change, including resilience to flooding by improved conditions for 210 inhabitants and on 780 ha of blanket bog; 2. More sustainable land use, agriculture and forestry, due to an increase in the area under sustainable forest management of 1 265 ha and anarea of agricultural land under sustainable management of 25 000 ha; 3. Improvements in habitats and for, species and biodiversity, with an area of 2 500 ha grassland and 780 ha blanket bog progressing towards habitat improvement or restoration, or in a favourable conservation status, and a reduction in invasive alien species equivalent to a 10% change in populations compared to before the project; 4. Improved economic performance in project areas, with 33.5 FTE jobs created where no water catchment management jobs existed before; 5. At least four direct replications of the projects approach in river basin catchments in Ireland alone, although others will be identified in Ireland and other countries and regions; 6. Communication, dissemination, awareness rising activities reaching 14 000 individuals and entities, including at least 70% of study area residents, resulting in increased stakeholder involvement in River Basin Action Plans and resulting changes in behaviour, including a 70% change within the agricultural sector.

LIFE On Machair

LIFE20 NAT/IE/000263

Start Date: 01/02/2022
End Date: 31/01/2028
Total Budget: 7,402,299 €
EU Contribution: 5,551,724 €

Protecting and restoring Irelands network of machair systems and associated breeding wader and pollinator communities

BACKGROUND

The LIFE on Machair project is taking place within 9 SACs & 4 SPAs in the west and north-west of Ireland and aims to protect and restore the priority Annex I habitat Machair (*21AO) as well as associated coastal habitats and the species they support. The conservation status was assessed as Unfavourable – Bad:  (a habitat in serious danger of disappearing, at least regionally) in Ireland’s 2019 Habitats Directive reporting and further evidence suggests there has been further degradation since 2013. Additionally, machair forms a complex with the priority Annex I habitat *2130 Fixed dunes which was also assessed as unfavourable – bad in 2019. This project aims to address the primary pressures negatively impacting machair systems: unsustainable agricultural and recreational/tourism activities. Agriculture pressures include inappropriate stocking levels and timing of grazing and interference with the machair physical structure. Inappropriate grazing reduces the diversity of vegetation structure and plant communities, diminishing floral resources for pollinators, and producing a sward structure that is not suitable for nesting waders.

OBJECTIVES

The overall objective of the LIFE on Machair project is to improve the conservation condition of Ireland’s ‘Machairs’ habitat and the ecological conditions for breeding waders and pollinators within project sites. The project will employ an integrated management approach; provide education, guidance, and informed management policies for stakeholders, and deliver concrete conservation actions within a network of machair and wader Natura 2000 sites.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • Work with farmers to develop and roll out agricultural management agreements on project sites that incentivise and reward farmers for improving habitat functioning and delivering ecological resources for breeding waders and pollinators in the long term;
  • Work with landowners to implement site-specific conservation interventions (e.g. revegetation, predator control) to address acute threats to the targeted habitats and species;
  • Provide opportunities and support for local farmers and communities to engage in capacity building and knowledge sharing on the sustainable management of machair sites;
  • Reduce the negative impacts of recreational users on popular sites by developing a sustainable tourism model for machair sites;
  • Develop a strategy to ensure replication and transfer of project results in the context of the After- LIFE Plan.

The project will contribute to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, and the development of Ireland’s Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for Natura 2000 including results-based agri-environmental agreements. It will contribute to the EU Pollinators Initiative, policy aiming to improve coastal habitat resilience to climate change, in line with the EU Strategy on Green Infrastructure. The project also complements the EU International Multi-Species Action Plan for the Conservation of Breeding Waders in Wet Grassland Habitats in Europe (2018-2028).

RESULTS

Expected results:

  • Improved structure and functions of the component habitats over a total machair system area of around 3,500 ha, with improved ecological conditions for waders and pollinators;
  • A results-based agri-environment measure designed and implemented on up to 3,000 ha of target lands, thereby improving habitat functioning and delivering ecological resources for waders and pollinators in the long term;
  • Site-specific concrete conservation actions for habitats, waders and pollinators implemented on around 3 500 ha of SACs (overlapping with approximately 560 ha of SPAs), reducing and/or eliminating acute threats to these habitats and species;
  • The above actions will improve the conservation condition of the targeted 1,200 ha of ‘Machairs’ (*21A0), that is 39% of the total area of machairs habitat in Ireland, and the EU, and 1 000 ha of ‘Fixed dunes’ (*2130), 12% of total area in Ireland;
  • The total population of breeding waders within lands targeted by the project at least maintained at 259 pairs, but ideally will have increased;
  • Annual community workshops in project sites will have explored the sustainable use of machair sites for tourism and recreation, and a sustainable tourism model for machair sites will have been developed;
  • Approximately 6 knowledge exchange groups covering all project areas implemented, supporting and improving farmer/landowner capacity to sustainably manage machair sites;
  • Local community initiatives developed during the workshops will have been facilitated through the provision of small grants for eco-friendly tourism to the value of €80,000; and
  • A strategy to ensure replication and transfer of project results in the context of the After-LIFE Plan will have been developed.

LIFE Atlantic Crex (Corncrake Conservation)

LIFE18 NAT/IE/000090

Start Date: 01/01/2020
End Date: 31/12/2024
Total Budget: 5,894,895 €
EU Contribution: 4,296,171 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Legal Status: PAT
Address: 23 Kildare Street, D02 TD30, Dublin, Ireland
Contact Person: Claire COOPER
Email: LIFE@housing.gov.ie
Tel:
Website: http://www.chg.gov.ie and http://www.npws.ie

Improving Corncrake conservation status in Ireland by the enhancement of the SPA network and surrounding farmland

BACKGROUND

The project is taking place in the West and North-West of Ireland focussing on nine SPAs (eight project sites spanning over 4 300 hectares) and will target the Annex I species Corncrake (Crex Crex). The most recent assessment of Corncrakes in Ireland notes an 85% decrease in population since 1978 and a 92% decrease in range. The major causes of the dramatic deterioration in conservation condition since the 1970s are the move from haymaking to silage, the homogenisation of agricultural enterprises, increased fertiliser applications, reseeding of semi-natural grasslands, the use of larger, more efficient machinery, and increased exposure to predation. There is an urgent need to reverse this decline by improving the efficacy of a variety of conservation measures to enhance the status of the Corncrake.

OBJECTIVES

The overall objective of the project is to improve the conservation status in Ireland of the Corncrake by the enhancement of the SPA network and surrounding farmland. The specific objectives are to: secure landowner cooperation and local community involvement and support; improve targeting and delivery of effective conservation measures, underpinned by science; improve management regimes for Corncrake in the project sites; create areas of earlyand late cover (ELC) for Corncrakes; improve knowledge exchange with farmers and planners in the project sites; and promote the Corncrake as an asset for local areas and communities.

LIFE Atlantic Crex will contribute to the implementation of the EU policy and legislation in the area of nature and biodiversity. It will also support the Natura 2000 network by developing integrated approaches to implement the Prioritised Action Framework for Ireland.

RESULTS

Expected results: an improvement in habitat condition conducive to a Corncrake population increase in the medium to longer term; site-specific conservation objectives for nine SPAs; a Corncrake results-based scoring system which will be piloted to identify the most appropriate means of rewarding farmer effort; around 50ha of land purchased for targeted Corncrake management; around1 000ha under Corncrake management regimes; trial of various ELC species using the habitat scorecard; a MSc thesis using ELC monitoring results which will inform new best practice guidelines for quality ELC creation and maintenance; a PhD which will provide scientific underpinning of precision environmental management for Corncrake based on passive acoustic monitoring and thermal imaging.