BREAKING THE BANKS: Are Irish riverside habitats under threat from over-maintenance?
57 Backers raised €1695 of €3100

Clearing of vegetation from waterways is a regular occurrence across the country as part of the mandated maintenance of over 11,500km of channels and 800km of embankments.

This “vegetation management on rivers” is part of the statutory duty of the Office of Public Works (OPW), according to Minister Patrick O'Donovan in the Dáil recently. This is “to ensure that the level of drainage afforded to the benefiting agricultural lands is maintained”.

However, various environmental and water conservation groups have called for reform of this practice, with the Irish Wildlife Trust saying it has “resulted in the destruction of whole river systems”.

Numerous land and aquatic species rely on the ecologically diverse area at the edge of the river - the riparian habitat - for shelter, spawning and food.


This work is mandated as part of the Arterial Drainage Acts which dates back to the 1940s. We will examine if any reforms or reviews of this practice have taken place and ask experts for their views on current practice.

Environmental assessments should be carried out in advance of these works, as per legislation. We want to investigate if adequate assessments are being carried out in advance of clearing of vegetation, and if subsequent work adhered to any mitigation measures imposed.

We also want to find out what records the OPW keep when it comes to clearing the sides of waterways.

Have you any information that you think would help this investigation? Contact us at [email protected]

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