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Communities Caring for Water: a landmark moment for the Rivers Trust movement in Ireland

Rebecca Duncan


In November, The Rivers Trust co-hosted a landmark virtual event bringing together representatives from local rivers trusts and catchment community groups working across the Republic of Ireland. Communities Caring for Water was hosted by The Rivers Trust and the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), an organisation which works with community groups, local authorities, public bodies, and other stakeholders to improve Ireland’s watercourses. It was supported by Ireland’s Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Throughout the morning, nearly 250 participants tuned in to hear from speakers representing a diverse range of local rivers trusts and community groups. Maigue, Inishowen, and Bandon Rivers Trusts all featured, presenting on topics such as Citizen Science and growing as a new Rivers Trust. Groups, including Keep Kilkenny Beautiful and Dúchas na Sionna (Heritage of Shannon), gave talks on water quality and on wetlands as a nature-based solution. Community engagement was a key theme, with a session by The Rivers Trust and An Fóram Uisce (The Water Forum) presenting on communications and cutting through the noise of COVID. In a first for events hosted by The Rivers Trust in Ireland, a panel discussion was held on equality, diversity, and inclusion. It was extremely thought provoking and we were delighted to be joined by speakers from Monaghan County Council, Teach na Daoine Family Resource Centre, and LINC for their valued perspectives. A series of lightning talks looking to the future of rivers and watercourses in Ireland, including strategic priorities for LAWPRO and The Rivers Trust, then concluded the event. Mark Horton, All Ireland Director at The Rivers Trust, said: “In what was a challenging year for everyone, this event was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the amazing work that groups across all parts of Ireland have been doing to protect, improve and enjoy our rivers and loughs. It was encouraging to see so many people both take part in and attend this event and we hope to be able to support as many groups as possible in 2021 to develop the community’s capacity to deliver projects that help protect our freshwater environment.” Sean Keating, Director of LAWPRO, said: “It was a pleasure to co-host this event with The Rivers Trust and to see the enthusiastic response of the virtual attendees to the range of speakers and topics. There is a healthy appetite across Ireland for community involvement in caring for our rivers and lakes. We in LAWPRO will continue to support our communities and look forward to working with The Rivers Trust into the next cycle of the River Basin Management Plan.” Watch the event and browse additional resources here.
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