IRD Duhallow are a rural development company serving the Duhallow region of North West Cork, Mid-Cork and South East Kerry.
This booklet was produced by the IRD Duhallow Blue Dot team to raise awareness of the importance of measures implemented by the Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchments EIP and the Owentaraglin River EIP project.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation programme under grant agreement.
The European Union aims to reduce net carbon emissions by 55% in 2030, and become climate neutral by 2050.
These goals can only be met if it boosts carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems, preferably while fostering socio-environmental co-benefits such as conserving biodiversity, adapting to climate change, and safeguarding socio-economic and cultural values.
Both the IPCC and the IPBES have emphasised the great potential of ecosystem restoration and related nature-based solutions (NbS) for addressing the challenge.
wildE introduces ‘climate-smart rewilding’ as an innovative restoration approach to create climate benefits while also addressing other socio-environmental needs.
The project gathers a multi-disciplinary team of leading European experts to develop a research and innovation programme addressing the climate-biodiversity nexus in tight association with the socio-economic dimension of large-scale restoration.
The team will also project scenarios to assess Europe’s rewilding potentials under diverse land-use and climate change futures. wildE will
(i) generate comprehensive case-comparative data on European rewilding trends and outcomes,
(ii) quantify the net social, economic and environmental benefits, synergies and trade-offs related to rewilding and alternative land-use options;
(iii) develop cutting-edge projections for future land use and climate scenarios; and
(iv) develop tangible and readily accessible decision-support and management guidelines to enable policymakers, conservation managers, communities, and the private sector to co-construct climate-smart rewilding strategies as effective NbS for meeting the EU’s climate and biodiversity targets.
Embedded within an ambitious stakeholder engagement, communications programme, wildE research will enable climate-smart rewilding as operational large-scale NbS to effectively foster the natural capacity of Europe’s ecosystems for climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity support.
With 8 case studies across Europe, wildE will deliver scientific insights, methods and tools for different geographic, ecological and social contexts, in order to assist EU policy makers, national governments, regions, local communities and commercial companies in embedding rewilding-type ecological restoration in their policies and plans for achieving carbon neutrality, enhancing climate adaptation and reversing biodiversity loss.
Climate-smart rewilding: ecological restoration for climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity support in Europe
Status: In progress
Start project: Jan 1, 2023
End project: Dec 31, 2026
Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE) INRAE Transfert SAS Karlsruher Institut für Technologie Oppla EEIG University of Copenhagen Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Centro de Investigación Ecológica y Aplicaciones Forestales European Forest Institute Lund University Associação BIOPOLIS Institute of Forest Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences International Union for the Conservation of Nature EU Representative Office Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Czech University of Life Sciences Prague Aarhus University Antarr Sustainable Productive Forest, Sa Biologische Station Westliches Ruhrgebiet e.V. Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen – KNAW University of Galway Coillte Teoranta Sveaskog Förvaltnings AB
LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature are developing a multi-actor community-led pilot project, which seeks to develop local capacity to implement habitat restoration actions in and adjacent to three SACs in counties Mayo and Galway. It builds on a successful preliminary project based in the Bundorragha catchment in Co. Mayo in 2022. Although the primary focus will be rhododendron control, a training module for further peatland restoration methods will also be developed. This request for tender seeks a suitable contractor to run the community-led project. It aims to extend the current rhododendron control programme within the Mweelrea/Sheeffry/Erriff Complex SAC to the greater SAC and to targeted areas within the Connemara Bog Complex SAC and the Twelve Bens and Garraun Complex SAC. It also seeks to expand local capacity to implement other peatland restoration actions such as fencing, drain management and conifer removal.
Collaboration with the local community and relevant stakeholders, is an integral part of the proposal as well as collaboration with the other working groups of similar projects throughout the region.
A key remit of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is to source complementary funding outside of this core project budget and in the context of this request for tender, these works are being funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Tenders are invited for a suitable contractor to deliver all aspects of this project over the course of the next year.
Research is needed to design and implement a suitable monitoring programme that has the capacity to assess the status of high-status objective river water bodies, the environmental stressors that are preventing high status from being achieved, and the effectiveness of measures put in place to protect and maintain the status of these waters.
Innovative research proposals are therefore invited to:
• Undertake a detailed literature review of the most appropriate quality elements, metrics, methods and frequencies to be included in a monitoring programme of high-status objective river water bodies.
• Design a suitable multi-year monitoring programme that is sufficiently representative of the different types and magnitude of environmental stressors, pressures and water body types in each demonstration catchment.
• Implement the monitoring programme in the six demonstration catchments during the lifetime of the project.
• Establish a baseline and a suitable number of control sites against which improvements in environmental conditions can be assessed and quantified in each of the demonstration catchments during the lifetime of the monitoring programme.
• Develop a set of Key Performance Indicators based on the information collected by the programme to be used to track the effectiveness of measures in protecting or improving the condition of high-status objective water bodies during the lifetime of the project.
In 2021 there were 160 farmer in the WAN results-based agri-environment payment scheme (RBPS) and this increased to over 800 farmers in the in 2022 covering 65,000ha in 8 SACs.
The target area for 2023 is to survey a maximum of 5 of the 11 project sites within the WAN target area. This accounts for c.63,000 ha of blanket bog and associated habitats. The remaining project sites (c.73,000 ha) will be surveyed over 2024 and 2025
The impact of drainage, burning and grazing will also be reported;
This assessment will also report on the restoration potential of the blanket bog and associated habitats.
LIFE Integrated projects 2018 Stage 2 – FULL PROPOSAL 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.
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.
Milestones: – 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.
Milestones: – 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.
Milestones: – 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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)
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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)
Milestones: – Initial Catchment Walkover Investigations completed by 1/09/2022.
C.2: Follow-up Catchment Investigations
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Milestones: – Strategic Catchment Management Plans completed by 1/12/2022.
C.4: Deliver training for agricultural and forestry advisors
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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).
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – Implementation plans agreed with landowners by 1/03/2023.
C.7: Implement programmes of measures across all demonstration catchments
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – Roll out of programme of measures by 01/10/22.
C.8: Landuser support for measures implementation in demonstration catchments
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – HS Catchments Monitoring Programme established by 1/09/2022.
D.2: Ongoing environmental/status monitoring and progress reporting
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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
Deliverables: 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.
Milestones: – 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.
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
Milestones: – End of Project Reporting completed including Final Audit Report by 31/12/2026.
Hydromorphology is a relatively new discipline which is described in the Water Framework Directive. It refers to the physical character of the river and includes the flow of water in the river, the course the river takes or the form and shape of the river channel.
It stems from the term ‘fluvial geomorphology’, a subject that focuses on the processes of water and sediment movement and the features that these processes create in a river such as pools, riffles and glides. These processes and features create and maintain habitats for invertebrates, fish and plants.
Hydromorphology pressures are anything that impacts negatively on the form or flow of the a river, for example: weirs and dams which may impede fish passage; drainage works which straighten and deepen the channel and thereby damage important habitat features for aquatic species and soil or bank erosion which can cause siltation of the river bed.
Changes to the hydromorphological characteristics of surface waters is estimated to be a significant pressure in almost 29% of high status objective waterbodies that are At Risk of not meeting their environmental objectives. It is the most prevalent significant pressure within high surface objective water bodies.
Two of the catchments selected within the €20 million Waters of LIFE project deal with hydromorphology
River name: The Shournagh
Water Framework Directive Reference: Lee SC 060
Location: Co Cork (near Tower and Blarney)
Significant Pressures: Agriculture, Hydromorphology, domestic wastewater, urban runoff, OPW Area for Action
River name: The Awbeg
Water Framework Directive Reference: Blackwater SC 060