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Project to Improve Water Quality in Lough Carra to commence under EU funded LIFE Programme

Date: 03-12-2021

Mayo County Council is delighted to announce that approval has been obtained to commence an EU financed LIFE Project, Lough Carra Life. 

The aim is to improve water quality in Lough Carra to favourable condition, improving the national status and trends of this habitat, and to improve the conservation status of the orchid-rich grasslands, limestone pavement, Common Gulls, Otters and Lesser Horseshoe Bats in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA).  Lough Carra, a marl lake is celebrated for the exceptional rarity of its ecological communities.  It forms part of the Lough Carra/Mask Complex SAC & Lough Carra SPA. 

Mayo County Council will lead the project and be responsible for overall management, reporting, project headquarters, team recruitment, meetings, and ensuring that outcomes are achieved, and deadlines met. 

This will be done in partnership with: 

  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, a major financial contributor, who will design the agri-environmental program with Mayo County Council and will bring forward the learnings into future agri-environmental and climate measures following completion of the project.  
  • The National Parks & Wildlife Service, part of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, will contribute funding and staff resources, including employing an Invasive Species Officer.  
  • Geological Survey Ireland, a division of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, will carry out a hydrogeological investigation of the Lough Carra catchment to better understand the connection between groundwater and surface water.  They will work closely with the project Groundwater Officer.  
  • The Lough Carra Catchment Association, who will contribute both financially and through volunteer work as an in-kind contribution, including participation in monitoring, community outreach and education.  As the group which conceived the project, they are well suited to this, with members who are intimately involved with the lake, both professionally and voluntarily.  
  • Coillte, who will assist through their four forest properties in the area which will transition to be fully managed for biodiversity enhancement, with specific measures for Lesser Horseshoe Bats. 

The Project has an overall budget of €5.0 million and will be implemented over a five-year period, employing a Project Leader and five technical and administrative staff. 

Measures will be taken across the catchment to reduce losses of nutrients, by working with farmers and other stakeholders to change practices that are sources of pollution and biodiversity loss.  These will include:

  • A results based agri-environment measure for some farmers in the catchment.
  • A groundwater catchment study to understand the connections between land, groundwater and surface water quality, and to target nutrient management measures. 
  • Restoration in former commercial forestry to be managed for biodiversity with a focus on improving the suitability of the area for the Lesser Horseshoe Bats. 
  • A constructed wetlands demonstration site. 
  • Invasive species control measures. 
  • Specific conservation measures for Lesser Horseshoe Bats. 
  • Monitoring the impacts of the project. 
  • Active engagement between the project and stakeholders, other relevant projects, and the wider public. 

Welcoming the Project, the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr. Michael Smyth said that he is delighted that Mayo County Council will lead this exciting project to restore water quality in Lough Carra, putting in place the resources to support to the community in the catchment.  He paid tribute to the Lough Carra Catchment Association and his Council colleague, Cllr. Al Mc Donnell for leading the way in highlighting the decline of the lake in recent years.  He also acknowledged the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey Ireland and Coillte, together with the EU LIFE Programme for their generous funding. 

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