This initiative is one of a number of measures set out in the publication ‘Forests & Water: Achieving Objectives under Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 which details how DAFM and the wider forest sector will fulfil their role in achieving the objectives under the 2nd cycle of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) as set out in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021.
Development of the RBMP involved a characterisation and prioritisation assessment of all water bodies based on technical assessments, knowledge and information from Local Authoriites, Inland Fisheries and Irish Water, is supported by data gathered from Catchment Characterisation Workshops.
Of the 4,829 water bodies, 1,460 were considered ‘at risk’ of not meeting their WFD status objective, based on pressures from agriculture (53%), hydromorphology (24%), urban wastew water (20%), forestry (16%), domestic waste water (11%), peat extractive industry (8%) and urban runoff (9%).
A total of 384 river, lake, transitional and coastal water bodies have a high ecological status objective (protect and restore). These include 319 river water bodies (28 within the priority eight Freshwater Pearl Mussel Catchments) and 37 lake water bodies. A total of124 river and lake water bodies are ‘at risk’ of not meeting their HES objective, with forestry identified as the most significant pressure.
According to DAFM, ‘inappropriately-sited forests and poorly managed forest operations can potentially impact water quality, aquatic habitats and species such as salmonoids and Freshwater Pearl Mussel, particularly in terms of situation and nutrient runoff and changes in hydromorphology’.
An overall approach set out in Forests & Water is to safeguard water during all forestry operations, to restructure existing forests to reflect water sensitivities where required, and by locating and designing new woodlands and forests in a way that protects water quality.
‘The aim is fully realise the important role woodlands and forests have in protecting and enhancing Ireland’s waters and associated aquatic ecosystems.’
The two publications: Woodland for Water: Creating new native woodlands to protect and enhance Ireland’s waters’ and Forests & Water: Achieving Objectives under Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, are available for download.
(Further comment and analysis in our Autumn issue, Sept 15)