Major project to save Moyola River habitat completed

Mervyn Finlay and Michael Brunton of Moyola Angling Association hard at work on the riverbank.
Mervyn Finlay and Michael Brunton of Moyola Angling Association hard at work on the riverbank.

Conservation enthusiasts in the Moyola Angling Association have completed a major project to the protect the upper stretches of the river.

The anglers cleared non-native trees and restored river banks on a neglected stretch of the Moyola outside Straw, Draperstown.

Michael Brunton, from the angling club said it was “great to see a partnership coming together to carry out the works and help to improve the water quality”.

A detailed plan of works, authorised and closely monitored by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), included the construction of carefully designed groynes, pools and gravel beds.

The creation of specially designed rock groynes and revetments will help to reduce bank erosion and sediment build-up in the water.

A section of the river was also enhanced by new fencing to keep livestock from poaching the river bank and the removal of some non-native trees allowing natural light back onto the river habits.

Led by Moyola Angling Association, a practical partnership consisting of the NIEA, DCAL, Rivers Agency, Magherafelt District Council and the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership was established with the intention of finding practical measures to help improve the ecological status of the water environment.

The £24,000 project was made possible through securing a £10,000 Water Quality Improvement Grant from NIEA, £5,000 from the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership Scheme and the provision of materials, support and expert advice from DCAL, NIEA and the dedication and effort of a small group of members of the Moyola Angling Club.

The Moyola Local Management Area specifies that 78% of the water bodies in the Moyola have been classified as less than good status.

All of the conservation techniques used were designed scientifically for this particular stretch of river and it is hoped that by decreasing the amount of sediment accretion there will be a noticeable improvement downstream for invertebrates and in the spawning gravel beds for salmon and dollaghan trout.

Fiona Bryant, Manager of the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership said: “Rivers have great importance for providing drinking water, flood alleviation, sustainable tourism, recreational and leisure activities and for a diverse range of local wildlife.

“Delivering these restoration measures will improve the conditions for invertebrates, a source of food, for birds, wildlife and fish.

“Working to increase public participation within the local community, issues such as fly-tipping and dumping which lead to pollution can also be addressed”.

This project has been delivered on time and within budget through the combined effort and commitment of a small group of individuals.

Special thanks must go to Mert Thompson-NIEA, John Kane -DCAL, Cllr Brian McGuigan & John Murtagh-Magherafelt District Council, Fiona Bryant-Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership Scheme, Michael Brunton, Philip Maguire, Sean Henry and members of the- Moyola Angling Association and the local landowners.