Tempo River ASSI

Protected area type: Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Feature type: 
  • Species
  • Fermanagh
Council: Fermanagh and Omagh
Guidance and literature: Tempo River ASSI

The Tempo River rises near Dooneen Forest, flows through Tempo town finally joining with the Colebrooke River before it enters Upper Lough Erne. The river runs through predominantly agricultural and semi-natural woodland. The underlying geology of the river is red sandstone and limestone bedrock with extensive sand and gravel deposits. The river flow is lowland riffle and run dominated with occasional deeper sections of glide.

It is a special place because of the physical diversity and naturalness of the channel and bank which allows it to support a variety of plant and animal species. In particular, the rare invertebrate the Freshwater Pearl Mussel is found along its length having one of the largest remnant populations of this species known to occur in Northern Ireland.

Rivers change as they flow downstream from the mountains to the sea. The river channel gets wider, the speed of the water varies and the river bed and banks change in shape. All these features affect the environmental conditions for plants and animals, so that each part of the river hosts its own distinctive wildlife community.

The channel substrate also provides suitable habitat for the White-clawed Crayfish, which in turn attracts larger predators such as otters. Birds such as kingfisher also feed along the length of the river.

Due to their complexity river habitats are fragile and can be quickly and easily damaged by human activity. Drainage works can alter the channel and the bed, making the river and its banks an unsuitable environment for many of its inhabitants. Pollution can have long term effects on animal and plant communities.  

It is therefore vitally important to maintain our rivers in as natural a state as possible, in order to safeguard the wealth of wildlife, which depends on them.

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