A key action of the Duhallow LIFE project is to put together a Conservation Plan for the upper portion of the River Blackwater Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and we are looking for input from the public and interested stakeholders to ensure that this plan is relevant, captures the main issues and most importantly provides a practical road map for the conservation of the SAC. Where possible we are looking for solutions rather than just rehashing problems that we all know exist. Recent media articles on the potential conflicts between conservation and development in the Blackwater Catchment, only highlight that as a society, we need to work harder than ever to find solutions, that facilitate sustainable development whilst all of the time maintaining the conservation objectives of SACs such as the River Blackwater SAC. Although the issues are often both complex and numerous, they can be tackled, and through the LIFE project we have shown that simple solutions can be developed and implemented. One example is the innovative silt traps, that trap silt in farm drains before the silt ever gets into the river to kill incubating salmon eggs or Freshwater Pearl Mussel. Another example is the flood friendly fencing innovation, which allows farmers to fence land, previously impossible to fence, as the floods kept washing away their fences. Simple techniques or measures plus the Integrated Catchment Management Initiative being piloted on the River Allow provide potential mechanisms to further improve management of not just the River Blackwater SAC but all rivers around the country. We are working closely with the EPA, landowners and many other stakeholders to unlock the benefits of this type of collective working for everyones benefit.

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