The aim of this project is to ensure optimal targeting and management of riparian buffers for the effective management of Irish rivers.


  • Evaluate the effectiveness of targeted riparian management measures to maintain and enhance water quality in Irish rivers
  • Promote a diverse range of ecosystem benefits from buffers and knowledge on optimal targeting of these measures.
  • Recognise that general effectiveness evidence shows high uncertainty and site-specificity and work towards decision support tools at a farm level for advisory and land manager on-site guidance aimed to maximise outcomes and uptake.
  • Identify what tools are available and what data requirements exist and can be built upon to work across scales. Work with existing national programs to incorporate best current tools/data and knowledge.
  • Identify factors and develop tools for risks associated with insufficient and inefficiently sited or designed buffers that do not optimise benefits, particularly outcomes for WFD water quality and ecological condition.
  • Make recommendations for actions from basic strategies widely implemented, to more specific requirements according to site circumstances, both physical and habitat aspects, at the correct spatial extent (location-reach-whole catchment).
  • Develop screening-level tools within already prioritised areas (EPA’s Priority Catchments), working with national spatial datasets with the best translational knowledge of key soil factors to maximise the spatial resolution to generate rules for placement and show how targeting designs and locations improves over a blanket use of linear, surface interception buffers.
  • Validate with stakeholders a range of buffer designs for given pollutant delivery routings. Understand continuing management commitments associated with these and how incorrect management can negate benefits.
  • Develop tools for (i) national screening level of buffer priorities/opportunities, (ii) local farm-catchment scale, on-the-ground advisory guidance and (iii) some web resources of demonstration site network/lessons learnt.
  • Identify and promote a network demonstrating best practice and, if and where there’s gaps, work with the Irish Agricultural Catchments Program and other wider initiatives to establish buffer demonstration/evidence sites.
  • Advise on structures for attaining implementation of buffers based on local knowledge, existing catchment advisory structures, and to promote demonstration and knowledge sharing activities.