11:00am - 3:00pm


Ballinderry Rivers Trust, 231a Orritor Road, Cookstown, County Tyrone BT80 9NB United Kingdom


Hosted by the CIWEM Northern Ireland branch and the CIWEM Republic of Ireland branch

Event description

Since 1999, Ballinderry Rivers Trust has been running a conservation breeding programme for the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). The freshwater pearl mussel is a long lived, freshwater bivalve, that has a symbiotic relationship with salmonid fish. The Ballinderry River in County Tyrone/Derry-Londonderry is one of only six rivers in Northern Ireland, and the last river in the Neagh-Bann system, known to still support a population of this imperilled species.The Trust’s long-running conservation breeding programme has seen the last remaining ~1500 wild adult, aging mussels, supplemented with thousands of juvenile and young sexually mature mussels through the breeding programme.

Simultaneous to the breeding programme, the Trust has been working with landowners to reduce the pressures in the catchment that prevent the natural recruitment of this environmental sensitive species. In recent years this has focused on whole-farm water and environment management planning and the investment of over £1m of on-farm interventions to reduce sediment loss to the river and protect water quality, through a bespoke agri-environmental scheme.

This combination of population reinforcement and integrated catchment management has led to new understanding about the species and its environment and has staved off the imminent local extinction of the Ballinderry freshwater pearl mussel population, whilst shifting the dial on catchment quality – towards sustainable natural recruitment conditions for this endangered species.

Attendees will hear about the in-situ and ex-situ work of the Trust, visit the Conservation Breed Centre and two farm locations to see interventions that help protect the Upper Ballinderry River SAC.

Join the annual joint fieldtrip hosted by the CIWEM Northern Ireland branch and the CIWEM Republic of Ireland branch in this interactive and informative event.

We welcome both members and non-members to this technical visit and workshop.

Part of the CIWEM Catchment Management series.

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About the speakers

Mark Horton MBE

CEO since 2016, Mark Horton has worked at Ballinderry Rivers Trust since 2004 as a projects manager, leading on conservation, catchment management, education and community engagement projects. Mark is also the All-Ireland Director of The Rivers Trust, the umbrella body for rivers trusts across the UK and Ireland.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with a BSc (Hons) in Physical Geography and gained a MSc in Catchment Dynamics and Management at Leeds University.

Rachael McEldowney

Rachael McEldowney is Head of Agriculture and Land Management at the Ballinderry Rivers Trust. Rachael heads up a team of agricultural advisors at the Trust, overseeing the farmland intervention planning and the design and implementation of the Trust’s bespoke Water-friendly Farming Scheme. Rachael also undertakes the Trust’s GIS work and mentor’s internship students.

Rachael is a graduate of Ulster University, gaining a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science.

Frank Mitchell

Frank Mitchell is a founder of the Ballinderry freshwater pearl mussel conservation breeding programme and Conservation Breeding Programmes Manager at the Ballinderry Rivers Trust. He manages the breeding centre including the 365-day-year husbandry of the pearl mussel population, as well as trout and white-clawed crayfish. Frank oversees all the trusts population assessments for the pearl muscle and salmonids as well as supporting our Trout in the classroom education and outreach programme.

Booking and joining information

This event is open to members and non-members of CIWEM.

Please note there is limited capacity at this event. Bookings must be made through 'My CIWEM' using the above booking link and are only confirmed once you have clicked ‘proceed & submit’ in the cart and received a confirmation email. Should you be unable to attend the event after booking, please cancel to allow other delegates to take the place.

If you have any questions about your booking or would like to cancel your attendance, please contact barbara.woods@ciwem.org.

If you have any queries about this talk, please contact Matt Buchanan at matt.buchanan@arup.com.

About the venue and getting there

The event will take place at Ballinderry Rivers Trust, 231a Orritor Road, Cookstown, County Tyrone, BT80 9NB, Northern Ireland. There are no trains to this venue and there is only an infrequent bus service to the Cookstown, which is 4 miles from the venue. We recommend that you travel by car and car share where possible.

Please wear walking boots or similar sturdy footwear and bring clean (biosecurity facilities are provided) wellies for the farm visits. Please wear suitable layers of clothing and a waterproof jacket. Waterproof trousers are not essential but may make you more comfortable should the weather be wet on the day.

Travelling to the venue

As part of CIWEM’s commitment to tackling the climate and ecological emergency we would encourage delegates to use the most environmentally sustainable means of transport possible.

By car

Travel by car is the only option. Please consider sharing the journey with others to reduce your environmental footprint.

As this is an in-person event, please remain vigilant to control the spread of COVID-19 and stay safe.

We would request that if you think you might have contracted COVID or have recently had the disease, that you do not attend the workshop.

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