Case study:Mulkear Life Project

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Location: 52° 42' 34", -8° 24' 29"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Fisheries, Habitat and biodiversity, Land use management - agriculture, Social benefits
Country Ireland
Main contact forename Nick
Main contact surname Elbourne
Main contact user ID User:NickRRC
Contact organisation Inland Fisheries Ireland
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Office of Public Works (Ireland), Limerick County Council
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Catchment map for the Mulkear River and tributaries. Courtesy of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board.

Project summary

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The Mulkear River and its tributaries (principally Newport, Bilboa and Dead rivers) form part of the Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and are particularly important for sea lamprey, Atlantic salmon, European otter, river lamprey and brook lamprey. The first three of these are the main ecological focus for this project.

The rivers have been extensively modified since the 1850s - straightening and meander removal, along with regular removal of LWD and other vegetation - which has reduced habitat diversity and thus biological diversity - ie. LWD removal reduces pool formation - an important habitat for juvenile Atlantic salmon. In addition, a number of weirs have been installed, creating a barrier to free upstream migration of fish for spawning - particularly sea lamprey and Atlantic salmon.

The riparian zones along the Mulkear and its tributaries have been degrading for many years, contributed to by the spread of invasive species (eg. giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam). This may lead to loss of river bank stability, sedimentation of important spawning beds and in the long term, the health of the riverine ecosystem as a whole.

A number of aims have been set out to improve the in-stream and riparian habitats:

1. Restoration of degraded habitats to improve otter (Action for otters), sea lamprey and Atlantic salmon populations, using best-practice for habitat rehabilitation.

2. Removal/modification of weirs to facilitate upstream fish migration for spawning.

3. Prevention and reversal of damage caused by invasive/introduced species - removal of problem vegetation from riparian zone and replacement of conifers with deciduous trees.

4. Work with local farmers to produce alternative solutions for cattle watering, with less impact on water quality.

5. Extensive advocacy/advisory work to create strong community links, along with improved education and awareness of river-related issues.

Works include: Alternative cattle watering solutions to improve water quality.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Shannon
River basin Shannon


River name Mulkear
Area category 100 - 1000 km²
Area (km2) 650
650 km²
65,000 ha
Maximum altitude category 200 - 500 m
Maximum altitude (m)
Dominant geology Siliceous
Ecoregion Ireland and Northern Ireland
Dominant land cover
Waterbody ID


Name Mulkear Catchment
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name Mulkear WMU
Pre-project morphology Straightened, Artificial channel
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations Special Area of Conservation
Protected species present Yes
Invasive species present Yes
Species of interest Sea lamprey, Atlantic salmon and European otter
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2009/01/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed 2014/01/01
Total cost category more than 10000 k€
Total cost (k€) 1740818
1,740,818 k€
1,740,818,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources EU Life Programme (50%), Inland Fisheries Ireland, Office of Public Works, Limerick County Council, NPWS, North & South Tipperary Councils

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure
Hydromorphology Channel pattern/planform
Physico-chemical Specific non-synthetic pollutants
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Weir removal/modification for easement of fish passage, Cattle drinkers
Floodplain / River corridor Protect/restore riparian zone, Removal of exotic plants, Replacement of conifers with deciduous woodland
Planform / Channel pattern
Other Best practice for river habitat restoration
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement) Community Education


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

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Additional links and references

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Supplementary Information

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