BLACKWATER SAMOK - Restoration of the Upper River Blackwater SAC for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Atlantic Salmon, European Otter and Kingfisher
The main project purpose is to bring about a sustained enhancement of the Upper Blackwater River Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in Ireland, by targeting the freshwater pearl mussel, Atlantic salmon, European otter and kingfisher. More specifically this is achieved by carrying out actions aimed at restoring the quality of the river bed and riparian zone. The expected results include: Halt excessive siltation of 40km of pearl mussel and salmon habitat by restoring riparian areas vulnerable to erosion from unsustainable agricultural practices. This includes 0.44 km of bank protection works; 6.46 km of pruning and coppicing; 6.84 km of planting of exposed riverbank areas; 6.0 km of Himalayan balsam removal; and provision of silt traps and constructed wetland in afforested areas where needed; Improve otter habitat over 27 km through installation of 10 otter holts and holding areas; Provide 12 kingfisher nesting areas; (and 10 dipper nesting areas); Develop guidelines for the management of riparian zones for otter and kingfisher in riverine SACs including water quality management for adjacent farms; Produce a habitat restoration plan for the tributaries of the Upper Blackwater, and one habitat restoration plan for the main Blackwater River. Also produce one overall plan for the future management of the Upper Blackwater SAC; Raise community awareness to improve public support and understanding for the project and its objective. This comprises initiatives including a media campaign and a range of publications and signage. In addition, 10 public and community training workshops and eight educational lectures are held. Visits are made to all 36 schools in the catchment area and an online ‘schools species recording project’ are established through the project website.