Restoring Irish Watersheds


Following the overwhelming success of our pilot restoration project in Courtown Woods last winter (2018), Seal Rescue Ireland has decided to significantly upscale our proactive conservation efforts. By collaborating with Wexford Co. Council, local farmers, fisheries and all members of the community, we aim to help restore the water catchment area for the benefit of all!

Our volunteers have planted 1,900 trees in February and March of 2020!

How, you ask? By planting strategically located native trees!

Did you know that 80% of Ireland used to be covered in native woodland. These days “including all hedgerows, motorway plantations and birch monocultures, less than 2% of the State [Ireland] is covered in native trees” (1)

“In 2012, 53% of suspected cases of pollution in rivers were attributed to agriculture… Among farms selected for inspection based on risk, over 30% each year were found to have breached these [good agricultural practices] regulations”-EPA.

We are utilising an internationally successful, native, riparian restoration model similar to the model below. This model will, in time, protect the Courtown Harbour water catchment from urban & agricultural run-off, with a vast gamut of other benefits to the local environment and socio-economic status of Co. Wexford.

Environmental Benefits

  • Flooding and erosion prevention along rivers.
  • Reduced sediment content in water allowing submerged aquatic vegetation to photosynthesise and grow which provides oxygen and habitat.
  • Carbon sequestration to mitigate impacts of our Climate Crisis.
  • Increased soil fertility security, as biodiversity of flora and microorganisms allow nutrient cycles to operate optimally.
  • Reduced river contamination from, fertilisers, pesticides, plastics and other toxic pollutants.
  • Increased biodiversity of terrestrial, freshwater and marine flora and fauna.
  • Restoration of natural habitats creates wildlife corridors allowing species to migrate freely throughout the catchment area, ultimately increasing biodiversity.
  • Increased reproductive success of trout, salmon and other fish species, including marine species that require freshwater habitat for breeding and early life stages.
  • Significantly increased biomass of food for pollinators, which are fundamental for life on Earth.

Socio-economic Benefits:

  • Increased nutrient retention in farm land, resulting in greater crop and cattle health, increased sustainability of farming practices and increased animal welfare.
  • Reduced bogginess in farmland, resulting in less cattle illness & death and better crop yields.
  • Reformed fisheries, as many species require clean, fresh water habitats to complete their life cycles and reach sexual maturity.
  • More green space and wildlife for locals and tourists to enjoy.
  • Cleaner waterways for swimming, fisheries and natural appeal.
  • Increased community connection with local environment for wellbeing education.
  • Create opportunities to develop outdoor eco-tourism industry.

If you would like to get involved or would like more information about this restoration project, please email our Outreach & Development Manager.


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