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The importance of our rivers for wildlife has become increasingly significant in recent times. Rivers are not only a food supply for aquatic life but also for birds and other wildlife. Rivers are a vital water supply while also providing an important resource for anglers and nature lovers. It is our duty to conserve, protect and maintain rivers for future generations and ensuring they are a safe habitat for species which are dependent on them. In 2010, IRD Duhallow was awarded funding from the EU LIFE + programme pointing the way towards the conservation of Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Atlantic Salmon, Otter, Kingfisher and Dipper on the River Allow, a tributary of the River Blackwater SAC. These species are integral to the river and require high quality river water status to survive. In recent times the conservation status of the site has become increasingly under pressure leading to increased nutrient enrichment, channel degradation and siltation caused by years of decline of riparian areas of the river.
The main purpose of the project will be to bring about a sustained enhancement of the river bed and the riparian zone. To achieve this, it is essential that all stakeholders in the river work together, highlighting the importance of the river to all parties and the role that they will play in its future conservation. The IRD Duhallow LIFE project is one of 84 nature and biodiversity projects granted funding across EU member States last year. Representing a total investment of approx €2 million euro, the project aims to contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives and the Natura 2000 Network on the River Allow. Initially established in 1989 with its main concern being for local rivers, IRD Duhallow has since developed intrinsic ties with local communities. IRD Duhallow firmly believes that for the project to be successful, creating an awareness of the river to local communities will be a vital element, promoting a sense of “community ownership” of the river. Targeting school students and teaching them about the importance of river life will ensure that the objectives established by the project will be maintained into the future.