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August 4, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

Waterways Ireland – Biodiversity + ecology good practice

Paula Treacy, Senior Environment Officer at Waterways Ireland, describes how Waterways Ireland conform to EU Environmental  Directives including the Water Framework Directive and how Waterways Ireland’s participation in the EU Interreg IVC ‘Waterways Forward’ project has allowed exchange of biodiversity and ecological good practices across all the 17 European project partners.

A story in Ireland of Good Practice: click to view full poster

The Water Framework Directive was set up in 2000 to establish a framework for the protection of all waters and to achieve to achieve Good Ecological Potential (GEP) by 2015. This includes canals which are classified as Artificial Water Bodies (AWBs) under the Directive.  “But establishing the ecological value for canals is not straightforward because -unlike rivers that have pristine conditions-this is man made infrastructure that has to be managed.”
This project was started in 2005 to both implement a monitoring programme and to develop a canal classification tool so that the canals could be assessed, and GEP’s achieved.  The current canal monitoring programme consists of 40 monitoring sites throughout the canals in Ireland across four River Basin Districts. It includes seasonal sampling of ecological quality elements including:

  • General physio-chemical parameters (quarterly)
  • Benthic invertebrate fauna (every 3 years)
  • Macrophytes (annually)
  • Hydromorphology

Baseline data from this programme and historic water quality data from the Canals enabled the initial classification of the Ecological Potential of the canals. This facilitated the completion of the draft River Basin Management Plans.  Classifications from the WFD Compliant Canal Classification Tool will be used to support operational and surveillance monitoring for canals in Britain and Ireland.  “We are monitoring over time and will select the areas that need to be addressed immediately.  Part of process is trying to establish what constitutes good ecology of canals in the first place.

Source: Paula Treacy, Senior Environment Officer Waterways Ireland

Success Factors:

  • The monitoring programme allows for the Ecological Potential of each canal to be assessed on a continual basis.
  • It also provides data that, in conjunction with results of the classification tool, will be used to target specific changes in management practices where required, to ensure compliance with WFD objectives.
  • Waterways Ireland has implemented a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme for the canals
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