IRD Duhallow held their Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchment EIP – End of Project Conference on the 7th of December 2023 in Newmarket, Co. Cork. The conference drew a line under what has been a very successful €1.4 million European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project. The project had developed a cost effective community led strategy to restore and protect the high status of the Allow River catchment, by engaging with the local community to protect and restore the ecological status of the Rivers Allow, Dalua & Owenanare. This was achieved through an innovative results based payments scheme.
Attendees at the conference heard how the community engagement aspect of the project had been so successful that the approximately 100 local farmers that had initially joined, had remained engaged over the lifetime of the project. The farmers had responded very favourably to working in collaboration with the Project Science Officers in finding practical solutions on their land to prevent runoff polluting local water courses. These measures included culverts, sediment ponds, water bars on farm roadways, strategic planting of trees etc.
Project Science Office Michael O’Connor took pride in informing the audience that 4 of the 18 watercourses in the catchment area had improved in quality during the lifetime of the project. While a further 13 watercourse maintained their good status and only 1 watercourse had deteriorated further. Michael emphasised the fact that it could take many years before the good work done over the last few years would translate into improve water quality test results.
There were also a number of other interesting speakers who gave informative presentations on the day. Dr Maura Walsh from the University of Galway spoke about the great success that the EIP programme has been in Ireland. According to Dr Walsh, this innovative, bottom-up, solution focused and collaborative approach to building relationships between local communities and state bodies is the envy of other EU countries.
Donal Daly (Consultant) has been working with IRD Duhallow since the start of the project when the funding bid was being developed. He gave a very informative talk on the intricacies of managing water quality and explained how geology and land type is just as significant as farming activity when dealing with water runoff.
In the afternoon the audience heard from participating farmers and they spoke about their experiences of working in the project. Anne Goggin, Managing Director of EU Waters of Life also gave a presentation about the work that her programme will be doing in nearby river catchment areas. She explained how the success of the Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchment EIP project would influence and inspire the work in her own programme. No greater praise could be given to IRD Duhallow than that.
Further information about the Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchment EIP project can be found here.