There are two freshwater pearl mussel catchments in the project area that are seperated by the Mullaghanattin mountain range: The Caragh and Kerry Blackwater.
Blackwater freshwater pearl mussel catchment
The Blackwater catchment is located to the southern side of the Iveragh peninsula in south west Ireland. The river flows from north to south, discharging to the Kenmare River estuary. Two principal tributary rivers, the Kealduff and the Derreendarragh, drain into the Blackwater River. These rivers are characterised by a high-density network of tributary streams. The source of the Blackwater River is at an altitude of ca. 600 m A.S.L. and the river traverses ca. 10 km before it reaches the sea. Although fewer and smaller in area than those in the Caragh catchment, oligotrophic lakes (Loughs Brin, Fadda and Beg) are also found in the Blackwater catchment. The Blackwater catchment lies within two Special Areas of Conservation, the Blackwater River (Kerry) and the Killarney National Park, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Caragh River Catchment
The principal land uses within the Blackwater catchment are agricultural production, particularly cattle and sheep, commercial forestry, peat extraction for fuel, tourism, angling and rural housing. The approximate proportions of the land types and uses are; 55 % peat bogs and heath , 26 % grasslands, 14% forestry, and 5 % comprising lakes, infrastructure and rural settlements. The Blackwater Catchment is mainly within multiple private ownership (ca. 93 %), while approximately 7 % is owned by the State Forest Company, Coillte Teo.
Caragh freshwater pearl mussel catchment
The Caragh catchment is located on the northern side of the Iveragh peninsula in south-west Ireland. It ranges in altitude from ca. 1,000 m above sea level (A.S.L.) in the south-east to 20 m A.S.L. in the north, where the main river channel enters Lough Caragh. The river system is characterised by an extensive river network and includes a number of oligotrophic lakes, notably Cloon Lough and Lough Acoose. The main tributaries of the Caragh River include the Meelagh and Dromalonhurt, which drain from the west, the Caraghbeg from the east, and the Owenroe from the south-west of the catchment. The watershed between the Blackwater and Caragh catchments is formed by the spine of mountains running from east to west across the Iveragh peninsula, incorporating peeks such as Knockaunanattin and Mullaghanattin.
The principal land uses within the Caragh freshwater pearl mussel catchment are low-intensity agricultural production, particularly cattle and sheep, commercial forestry, peat extraction for fuel, tourism, angling and rural housing. The approximate proportions of the land types and uses are: 60 % peat bogs and heath; 30 % grasslands; 6 % forestry and 4% comprising lakes, infrastructure and rural settlements. Most of the Caragh catchment is within multiple private ownership (95 %), while approximately 5 % is owned by the Coillte Teo.