The main objective of this designation is the protection of salmon and trout fisheries from the effects of commercial forestry operations.
An area will only gain designation as a sensitive area if the aquatic zone is part of a recognized salmonid fishery and be a spawning, nursery or angling area.
The geology of the area must be base poor which means it is unable to counteract acidity and pH, Hardness and Alkalinity tests and specific conditions must be maintained.
The designation has existed de-facto since 1993 with the Forest Service publishing guidelines on forestry and water quality in 2000.
This designation type has no legal backing but EU afforestation grants were conditional on compliance with a code of environmental practice.
The authorities with responsibilities for Sensitive Areas for Fisheries and Forestry are the Regional Fisheries Boards who work under the authority of the Department of the Marine and the Forest Service who work under the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Both private and state run afforestation is increasing in Ireland which promotes an increase in acidity, aluminium and dissolved organic matter in poorly buffered catchment areas. Also forest cover is a rapidly increasing component of many catchments. This has implications for water quality, particularly where there are area sensitive sub catchments.
(Taken from ‘Guideline Standards’ Freshwater Fish Directive, 78/659/EEC)
- Acid sensitive areas.
- River catchment / Lakes / Loughs.
- BOD 3mg per litre.
- Nitrates 0.01mg per litre.
- Suspended solids 25mg per litre
- Ammonium 0.04 mg per litre
- 5.5 pH.