IRD Duhallow was delighted to be invited to present at the MulkearLIFE end of project conference last Thursday in the Castle Oaks Hotel, Castleconnel, just outside Limerick. It was a great opportunity to see first hand the fruits of all of the hard work and effort put in by Inland Fisheries Ireland and their partners (NPWS, OPW and Limerick County Council) and coordinated by the MulkearLIFE team. Coordinated by Ruairí Ó Conchúir, project manager of MulkearLIFE, delegates from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Sweden were treated to an action packed line up. Presentations illustrating the achievements of the project todate, given by partners and participants in the MulkearLIFE project from School principals to representatives of the Conservation Volunteers and local community. A very strong element of the project is the community engagement and participation. The success of the various project actions was shown by the scientific monitoring data illustrating improvements made to sea lamprey passage, restored habitat for Atlantic salmon and otters. Project innovations were also on display, in particular the new technique developed by the project to help Sea lamprey ascend impassable weirs on rivers. It is great to know that the actions carried out in this project were based on the original aspirations of Mulkear Catchment Management Project initiated by the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board back in 2000. So from plan to completion it shows what can be done by people working together for the good of their common interests which includes the environment.
IRD Duhallow gave a broad presentation on the Duhallow LIFE project with particular emphasis on the work carried out in the River Allow catchment and the new initiatives to improve the environment further through stakeholder involvement; eg. the River Allow Catchment Management initiative and the Locally led Agri-environment Scheme being developed with farmers in Duhallow.
On day two of the meeting, presentations were given on EU LIFE and large scale conservation projects in the UK and Sweden. Ms. Jackie Webley, Scottish Natural Heritage, Pearls in Peril in the UK; Dr. Stephen Marsh-Smit OBE Wye & Usk Foundation, Success on the Irfon, Wales; Dr. Johanna Gardeström, Vindel River, River Restoration in Northern Sweden; and Mr. Martin Janes River Restoration Centre (UK), River Restoration Best Practice & RESTORE EU LIFE+ all presented.
This was followed by a very informative field excursion to view some of the practical conservation work along the Mulkear, with first hand demonstrations from the people involved. The sun shone brilliantly on what was a very enjoyable two days and we would like to extend our thanks to Ruairí Ó Conchúir and the conference organisers for such a warm welcome and excellent conference meeting.