Monitoring and restoration of freshwater (mussel) habitats – International conference

Natural Course representatives from local Rivers Trusts attended the International Seminar on the monitoring and restoration of freshwater (mussel) habitats, held in Luxembourg in November 2018. 

Thanks to Natural Course funding, Chris West and Diane O’Leary from West Cumbria Rivers Trust were able to attend this 2-day conference hosted by LIFE Unio project. The object of the event was to share experiences, learnings and to promote best practice in mussel conservation throughout Europe.

The conference discussed the methods being employed within Europe to support the conservation of two freshwater mussel species (Unio crassus and Margaritifera margaritifera).

Discussion points included the different techniques used to restore the habitat for mussels, the monitoring being undertaken to understand the conditions required and how this can then be used in inform habitat restoration decisions and the selection of mussel reintroduction sites.

The differing methods of rearing and releasing juvenile mussels to supplement wild populations, which are in decline, was also discussed.

Diane O’leary attended the conference on behalf of West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said:

“Attendance at the conference has helped us gain a better understanding of the scientific research being undertaken and has given us new ideas about differing habitat restoration methodologies.

“During the conference, we met with representatives from the Freshwater Biological Association who we will be working closely with to release juvenile mussels in the future and the conference has brought differing reintroduction methodologies into our awareness, which are worth considering.

“Going forward, we will use some of the habitat restoration techniques discussed within the conference in the Rivers Irt and Ehen.

“It was really encouraging to hear about and learn from so many projects across Europe working to save these iconic species from extinction.”

There are two further mussel conferences being planned during 2019. One in Dresden, Germany and one in Dordogne, France.