Northern Ireland river restoration training course

On 4th February 2017, Marc Naura and I ran a free river restoration training course for community members, volunteers and Catchment Partnership members on the Forkhill River in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. 

The course was run by the RRC and organised by the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.   After introducing the concept of geomorphology and how rivers function, Marc talked about how to identify issues within rivers including modification (straightening, widening, weir installation etc.), poaching, erosion and pollution outfalls.  A lot of interesting questions followed illustrating the growing interest in river restoration in Ireland.  I then briefly introduced the Fieldtrip GB app, which allows users to map data (photos, audio or text) onto a high-quality background map and upload this data to a shared folder.  Due to a lack of internet connection and the app’s limited geographical setting we were unable to have a go using the app but it illustrated how useful these type of mapping apps can be for new River’s Trusts looking to define issues in their catchment.  ​

It was a beautiful, clear day so after some lunch the group were keen to get out in the field and look at how they would begin identify issues along a river.  After viewing the Forkhill River over two bridges it became apparent to most that issues can be small-scale and limited to a short reach illustrating the importance of walking and surveying the full length of your river.  You can see this from the below photos which show upstream and downstream views over two bridges in Forkhill – in both cases the flow type, channel width, bank geometry and vegetation types vary quite significantly.


Upstream of this bridge the river has a smooth glide flow type and lacks bank side vegetation on one side compared to the faster flow with riffles downstream illustrating how quickly river conditions can change.                             Upstream of this bridge again the river has a smooth glide flow pattern and no bankside vegetation but downstream it became wider with vegetated banks and a weir created a change in flow pattern.

The course was free to community members thanks to funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.  Through this funding the RRC aim to provide free advice and guidance for those involved in river restoration and part of that includes running training courses across the UK aimed at small trusts, partnerships and community groups.  The RRC wants to improve technical knowledge and provide the skills needed to succesfully plan and deliver river restoration projects.  Find out more previous training courses here and about how our Esmee Fairbairn project can help you here.

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