The catchments of the rivers Caragh and Blackwater in Kerry are important for a number of habitats and species, including the endangered freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). The conservation status of this species has, over the years, declined due to land mismanagement, with diffuse sediment and nutrient losses being the main causes. There is an urgent need to reverse this decline and improve the conservation status of freshwater pearl mussels in these rivers, by the development and implementation of effective and cost-efficient measures for reducing diffuse losses of sediment and nutrients from forestry and farming.
The KerryLIFE project has been taking place in Natura 2000 network areas in south-west Ireland, within the Killarney National Park, which includes Macgillycuddy's Reeks and the Caragh River catchment, and the Blackwater River site in Kerry.
The project’s objectives were:
- To demonstrate effective conservation measures that will restore the freshwater pearl mussel to favourable conservation status in the Caragh and Blackwater catchments;
- To enhance awareness and understanding of the freshwater pearl mussel among local stakeholders;
- To demonstrate sustainable management techniques for farming and forestry in freshwater pearl mussel catchments; and
- To provide guidance for farming and forestry practices that support the conservation of freshwater pearl mussels.
The LIFE Kerry project team demonstrated sustainable land management practices for farming and forestry to help protect and restore the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) to favourable condition in two upland catchments in Ireland.
The project was structured around 36 actions, which were implemented in close cooperation with farmers and forest-owners within two Natura 2000 network sites (SACs) covering over 5 500 ha.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).