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Irfon Special Area of Conservation (ISAC) Project

Natura 2000Wye and Usk Foundation

After 18 months of drawing-up and completing the paper work and questions, work commenced in January 2010 on a 4-year €1.6m project to restore the river Irfon, one the two main tributaries of the upper Wye. ISAC was one of only four such projects awarded in the UK in 2010.

The pHish project had set out to restore the effects of acid rain in both upper Wye and Irfon. Success in the upper Wye was not mirrored in the Irfon, where extensive commercial forestry in headwaters was at the expense of hydrological sources. Coupled with extensive forest drainage systems, it was established that naturalisation of both flow and pH would bring a return to many of the SAC species. ISAC is the Foundation's first project to concentrate specifically on this part of the catchment and will restore 30km of degradation on the tributary streams.

The project is funded through the EU's Life+ Nature & Biodiversity Fund with contributions from the Environment Agency Wales and Countryside Council for Wales, ISAC will not only help salmon but also protect other SAC designated species such as otter, white clawed crayfish, freshwater pearl mussel, bullhead, shad and lampreys.

ISAC will deliver the following objectives:

  • Improve 30km of spawning & juvenile habitat for Atlantic salmon, bullhead, brook and river lamprey.

  • Improve 14km of habitat for white clawed crayfish.

  • Increase length of stream populated by white clawed crayfish from 3km to 14km.

  • Improve 24km of habitat for sea lamprey.

  • Improve spawning conditions for allis and twaite shad.

  • Establish 2 new otter breeding territories in the previously acid headwaters.

  • Establish a healthy and well documented reserve of SAC species within the Irfon to aid the Wye SAC achieving favourable conservation status.

The River Trust's role is primarily dissemination of the outcomes of the the project through its EU network of environmental organisations. In addition to general dissemination this involved a Seminar in Autumn 2011, which was open to all and fully subscibed.

A report on the conference can be found HERE including all the presentations given.

The event was publicised within Enews No.19 and reported on in Enews No.20

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