Press release: Protecting European rivers and wetlands: The Rivers Trust announces Ireland’s RiWet Project launch

Following approval and co-funding from the Interreg Europe Programme last April, the Rivers and Wetlands Protection Project (RiWET) is now set to commence its ambitious journey to safeguard Ireland’s vital water resources as part of a bigger European initiative.

Matthew Woodard


Irish peatlands are nationally and internationally significant, offering benefits such as flood risk alleviation, improved water quality, carbon storage, and enhanced biodiversity. Functioning peat and wetlands are crucial for regulating water discharge rates, and mitigating climate change. They also support unique flora and fauna and offer many social and cultural services to local communities.

The collaborative RiWET project has been set up to restore and protect these vital landscapes, which is essential to reversing damage and ensuring their long-term sustainability. By reinstating natural hydrological functions and enhancing biodiversity, peatlands can continue to provide critical ecosystem services that benefit both people and wildlife.

RiWET stands for Rivers and Wetlands, which are natural buffers essential for managing the changing climate and weather extremes. They play a crucial role in maintaining ecological processes and conserving biodiversity. This project brings together 12 partners and 4 associated policy authorities from 11 European regions, uniting more than 70 stakeholders to restore and manage rivers and peat landscapes, engage with local communities, organisations, and landowners, and co-design policy innovations for long-term change.

From Finland to Greece and Ireland to Spain, RiWET aims to create lasting, transformative changes through public-private partnerships and community involvement. These initiatives aim to improve policies regarding peatland and river restorations through public intervention in collaboration with the relevant public authorities.

The RiWET partnership will embark on its first knowledge exchange meeting, hosted by the Province of Drenthe, from June 25 to 27, 2024. This event will include visits to the peatlands of Bargerveen and the Hunze River valley, offering partners an opportunity to learn from best practice examples and engage with regional stakeholders.

The Rivers Trust Ireland Development Manager and Irish Project Lead, Dr Constanze O’Toole, said: “There has been a lot of hard work to get us to the official launch point of this internationally significant project, and we are delighted to be part of a European-wide team delivering it in Ireland between 2024 and 2028.

The Rivers Trust will leverage its considerable expertise in working in partnerships with private landowners and a wide range of stakeholders to support Ireland’s Peatland Policy in collaboration with relevant Irish State Departments.

“By engaging local communities and stakeholders, these partnerships aim to secure the long-term sustainability of peatland restoration, resulting in significant environmental, economic, and social benefits. Through collaborative efforts, we are laying the foundations for a resilient ecological future, demonstrating the power of community-driven conservation to help improve and protect our precious rivers,” Dr O’ Toole said.

The Rivers Trust is an environmental charity dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers, wetlands, and peatlands in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Britain. As the leading environmental charity in water protection, restoration and conservation, The Rivers Trust works across Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Britain, fostering partnerships with different stakeholders to enhance freshwater ecosystems for people and wildlife with a vision of wild, healthy rivers valued by all.

Back to top