River Guardians

The National River Guardian’s Project, through the Heritage Council's Heritage Capacity Fund 2023, supported individuals and other groups to develop knowledge and skills that will improve water quality for the benefit for all. Between April 2023 and December 2023, as part of the National River Guardians project the Inishowen Rivers Trust hosted 10 workshops, 2 field trips and 4 training session around the subject of monitoring, conserving, and protecting our rivers and waterbodies. These have been in Inishowen, Stranorlar, Glenveagh National Park, Sligo Town, and online to widen the impact of the volunteer skill development and engagement they have been pioneering in Inishowen. In this programme of events, there was a total of 227 attendees with a regional reach to the
in-person workshops, field trips and training and a national reach to our online workshops.

The different events – based around national campaigns including biodiversity week, heritage week, science week – created useful conversations and improved the communication with the communities both in Inishowen and further. The field trips to Glenveagh National Park, improved the understanding of landscapes influences on rivers and how groups can collect data on their own rivers. A walk through Drumboe Woods in Stranorlar highlighted the biodiversity along rivers and the invasive species that threaten water quality. During Heritage Week 2023 they increased the engagement with the rivers trusts and through sharing the stories and history of waterways increasing ownership over the conservation of the rivers. Events during Heritage Week in Sligo and Donegal emphasised the guiding statement of the Water Framework Directive – ‘ Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected defended and treated as such.’ The National River Guardians Project also worked with Ireland's newest Rivers Trust The Sligo Bay Catchment Rivers Trust, to produce a 25 minute film explaining the role and vision for their group.

A River Guardians National roll out strategy is an essential piece of work to ensure that the work of the Inishowen Rivers Trust follows a sustainable direction and the programme meets an identified need. We will look at knowledge networks, demonstrations
of what can be done, field trips, and practical knowledge for the future of the National River Guardians project.