Expert Couplet for Lough Swilly

Your input is essential to the process and is greatly appreciated.
Please include information and/ or comments in the feedback section below.

Thank you! (IMCORE Project end date October 2011)


Background and context

Over the past few years the EU Commission has been leading a major debate on the need for a new approach to maritime/coastal use and management in the face of climate change and other pressures on coastal resources.

The EU Commission communication October 2007 on development of Integrated Maritime Policy invites member states to develop coordinated coastal planning using specific tools e.g. Maritime Spatial Planning & Integrated Coastal Zone Management (MSP/ ICZM). In June 2008 a Marine Strategy Framework Directive was published by the EU Commission. It requires Member States (among other things) to achieve good environmental status by 2020, address all human activity impacting on the marine environment using the ecosystem approach, develop strategies for managing marine waters, and develop frameworks to inform policy making. The communications stress the economic and social importance of the EU coastal zone for various uses including tourism and recreation, fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and environmental conservation.

In the context of these changes in EU Policy/ Legislation, Donegal County Council, in partnership with the University of Ulster joined an Interreg IVB North West Europe project called “IMCORE” (Innovative Management of Europe’s Changing Coastal Resource).

Through a succession of EU funding initiatives the University of Ulster’s (UU) Centre for Coastal and Marine Research and Donegal County Council (DCC) have a long established working relationship in the field of coastal management. Together we have tested sustainable coastal management initiatives in Donegal which has provided valuable information on which to base coastal management decisions and influenced the development of EU policy. A strong foundation of knowledge and expertise in coastal management has been developed and we are continuing to build on this through the IMCORE project.

IMCORE objectives

IMCORE has objectives at both the local and EU level.  These are described briefly below.

Overall Goal: Improve management approaches in order to enhance our ability to respond to the Ecological, Social and Economic impacts of climate / coastal change. These impacts (including erosion, flooding and acidification) will affect all sectors of activity but with different levels of severity.

Locally (using Lough Swilly as a case study area): In a pilot study of Lough Swilly, the University of Ulster and Donegal County Council are exploring ways in which a strategic approach to management could be developed in the coastal and marine environment.

Local actions include development of:

1. A Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
2. An environmental and activity audit – as a step towards Marine Spatial Planning
3. Lough Swilly – A living landscape (“the book”)
4. A Marine Discovery Centre

1. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy– what are the likely implications of future climate change in Lough Swilly?

General impacts of Climate Change:

* Sea level rise
* Change in temperature
* Change in precipitation
* Ocean acidification
* Change in frequency & magnitude of extreme events

In IMCORE we are testing the applicability of an “exploratory scenario-building process” for developing adaptive management frameworks. Since the future cannot be predicted with accuracy, scenarios allow managers to think about possible future trends and appreciate their potential effects.

Future Scenario Building Process

As the name suggests, the exploratory scenarios paint a picture of what might happen in the future. This provides a basis for discussion of the potential management implications and allows managers to consider the implications for their own sector of responsibility.

By approaching this in an integrated way with participants from different sectors of activity, it is hoped that managers of different sectors gain an appreciation of the full impacts of climate change on other sectors.

Progress to date

* March 2009- Workshop 1: Preliminary issues and drivers workshop (Internal DCC process)

* May & June 2010 development of website for public information and feedback (carried out by project staff)

* June 2010: Future Scenarios Workshop with a consultative group comprising officials of Donegal County Council, elected members and representatives of other state bodies with management responsibilities.

* Develop future scenarios using narratives and visual tools (project staff using input from scenarios workshop and public feedback section of IMCORE website).

*Dissemination and explanation of draft scenarios to the consultative group (project staff).

*October 2010 and February 2011 follow up workshops with consultative group to: discuss draft future scenarios; validate preferred future scenario; and develop strategic actions to reach preferred scenario (consultative group and project staff).

* Develop Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in liason with  the consultative group and disseminate via IMCORE website (project staff).

* Strategy complete.

2. Lough Swilly Environmental and Activity Audit

Desk based research to provide a robust foundation for the development of future policy and management strategies relating to Lough Swilly.

Throughout the project we will be gathering baseline information on the resources of Lough Swilly and its surroundings. We will be using this information to create a database of existing information and to publish a book on the resources of the Lough.

Actions underway:

* Audit of current environmental baseline information on, in and around Lough Swilly
* Audit of current activities on, in and around Lough Swilly

Aim of the study:

* To provide information that will be useful for any future marine spatial planning process.
* To assist in the piloting of an adaptive management approach to the threats from climate change.

The audit is now complete .

3. Lough Swilly “The Book”

The book aims to consolidate information and help people appreciate the value and uses of the Lough and the need for rational management. It includes chapters on:

  • Geology and geomorphology
  • Seabed and coastal environments and habitats
  • The waters of the Lough
  • History of Lough Swilly
  • Archaeology
  • Habitation, infrastructure and people
  • Nature Conservation
  • Fishing and shellfishing
  • Aquaculture
  • Tourism and recreation
  • The future of the Lough- the need for MSP

Each chapter will be supported by photographs and illustrations.

Current Status:

*Lough Swilly – a living landscape was published on the 2nd of September 2011 by Four Courts Press. The book was launched in Rathmullan House, County Donegal, on the 8th of September by marine correspondent Mr. Tom Mac Sweeney. Copies are available for purchase from .

4. Proposal for a Marine Discovery Centre

Based in Buncrana, on the shores of Lough Swilly the objective of the proposal is to integrate marine tourism, research and education.

The centre aims to:

* Promote Lough Swilly’s natural environment, species, coastal processes, activities, industry and community;
* Showcase extensive marine & coastal research available for Lough Swilly;
* Attract 60,000 visitors by yr 5, including primary and secondary level school tours;
* Host a tour vessel which would allow visitors to experience the marine environment;
* Highlight and develop opportunities for coastal/marine management, marine recreation, industry, employment and conservation.

Current status:

* Feasibility study and implementation proposal have been completed (see reports below);
* Efforts to secure funding and private investment to further the proposal are ongoing.


  • Implementation proposal for the Lough Swilly Marine Discovery Centre
View this document on Scribd
  • Feasability Study
View this document on Scribd

The Lough Swilly section of this website will be updated regularly as project outputs progress.

Your input is essential to the process and is greatly appreciated.

FEEDBACK: Please include information and/ or comments.

Your comments are PRIVATE and will be sent directly to the IMCORE project staff at Donegal County Council and University of Ulster.

Thank you (IMCORE Project end date October 2011)

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Lough Swilly Expert Couplet

Centre for Coastal & Marine Research, University of Ulster

Donegal County Council

The CCMR’s work centres on:

  1. understanding the spatial and temporal variability in coastal geomorphology and ecology and the linkages between them; and

  2. mechanisms for sustainable coastal management

We approach coastal geomorphic change at timescales from millennia to seconds, with a focus on the decadal to centennial scale. Our spatial scale of investigation ranges from a few metres of a single beach, to regional and global comparisons of coastal landforms. In coastal management, our research assesses the utility of various societal approaches to CZM and the constraints imposed by human values and organisational structures. This is done within the context of evolving legislative drivers at national and EU level.

The centre’s work contributes directly the societal debate on responding to the impacts of future climate change and sea-level rise through involvement in European and national initiatives on ICZM and climate change adaptation.

Professor Andrew Cooper

  • Coastal zone management
  • coastal geomorphology
  • estuary geomorphology

Professor Derek Jackson

  • Investigation of complex aeolian (Wind blown) sediment transport dynamics on beaches and dunes
  • Nearshore wave dynamics and morphological response
  • Longer term coastal dynamics (decadal to century)
  • Applied coastal science to coastal management

Dr. John Mc Kenna

  • Integrated coastal zone management
  • Process geomorphology of rock coasts (cliffs and shore platforms)
  • Process geomorphology of boulder beaches
  • High magnitude storm processes
  • Environmental Impact Assessment

Dr. Marianne O’ Connor

  • Long term coastal dynamics of inlet and headland beaches
  • External forcing of coastal processes on soft coastlines (NAO, wind, waves)
  • Short-term sand bar migration and GPS coastal monitoring
  • Integrated Coastal Zone management

Dr. Jiandong Huang

  • Coastal geomorphology and beach morphodynamics
  • Coastal dynamics: wave and current modelling; tide analysis
  • GPS, surveying and geodesy in coastal/marine studies
  • Data mining in coastal/marine studies
Donegal County Council is a local authority in the Republic of Ireland. The Council has initiated many marine tourism initiatives to organize and upgrade the coastal/marine product and to encourage strategic and sustainable development of the resources in the area. Initiatives include research, development and implementation of:

  • Beach management strategy;
  • Proposals for marine tourism, research and education centres;
  • Strategy for sailing and sea angling;
  • Game and sea angling marketing and online sales.

The Council works in collaboration with many state agencies, academic bodies, government departments, cross border agencies and the general public.

Jessica Hodgson – Project manager

Expertise in:

  • Project development and management;
  • Environmental, coastal & marine management;
  • Marine & freshwater product development;
  • Interagency collaboration & consultation.

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