Waterways Ambassador Course

Waterways Ecology Ambassador Programme

Non Accredited course

Duration: 8 Week Course – 2023 programme dates to follow

Apply to: Directly to Waterways College

1 Day per week on-location in the Water Ways College, Graiguenamanagh & 4 Online Sessions 

Course Outline

Course Introduction

  • Basic overview of variety and importance of waterbodies in Ireland with a focus on the South East
  • Introduction to Freshwater Ecology
  • Freshwater ecosystem services
  • Current state of freshwater biodiversity in Ireland & our international obligations
  • Course overview and outline

Habitats and Ecosystems

  • Irish freshwater habitats: rivers & streams, lakes, turloughs, wetlands, springs
  • Local habitats and Natura 2000 network
  • Freshwater foodwebs in Ireland and key species
  • Aquatic flora & fauna, categorization, identification
  • Habitat mapping – Fossitt Level 2

Water Quality and Current Pressures

  • Sources and signs of water pollution
  • Impacts of water pollution on native species
  • Local threats to water quality – e.g. agricultural run-off, outfalls and pipes, invasive species recorded in the area.
  • Nitrogen & Phosphorous
  • Citizen Science Stream Index

Catchments and land use

  • The importance of freshwater catchments
  • The Water Cycle
  • Current land use around the River Barrow
  • Wildlife corridors
  • Integrated Catchment Management

Native and invasive species

  • River Barrow biodiversity – common fish, birds, invertebrates, plants
  • Rare and threatened species
  • Knowledge of threats posed by invasive species
  • ID of common invasive species
  • Surveying & control of invasive species

Ecological problems and pressures

  • How is man effecting the freshwater environment?
  • Man-made problems e.g. dry deposition
  • Understand why water conservation is important
  • Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems
  • Natural Flood Management

Citizen science, data collection, reporting

  • The National Citizen Science Programmes and the data that has been generated
  • Overview of current Citizen Science schemes
  • How to participate in current schemes
  • The 10 principles of Citizen Science
  • The National Biodiversity Data Centre

Improving biodiversity at home

  • Simple and practical ways to increase biodiversity in your locality. Increasing carbon capture for climate resilience.
  • Water conservation in the home and garden
  • Lawn to grassland & microhabitat creation
  • Community projects
  • Community funding opportunities

The Water Ways Ambassador course will include field sessions each week and 2 full action days both on and off the water to gain practical skills including species ID, habitat mapping, citizen science data collection, water quality assessment, invasive species control.

Participants will also carry out a group project as part of the course on a topic that interests them. They can choose between doing a research project (including data collection) OR a funding application. Students will be guided in formal writing, structuring work effectively for understanding, data collection and analysis and presentation of work.

This course would be ideal for anyone looking to become an ambassador for the environment in their own community; undertake further study such as a degree/diploma in environmental sciences/environmental management; or return to education after a long break.