Research 163 - Saltmarsh Angiosperm Assessment Tool for Ireland (SMAATIE)

Authors: Fiona M. Devaney and Philip M. Perrin

Summary: The EU Water Framework Directive aims to protect and enhance the quality of rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Member States (MS), such as Ireland, must aim to achieve good status in all waters by 2015 and ensure that status does not decline. As part of this commitment, MS must assess and classify the quality of transitional and coastal waters.

Published: 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84095-621-4

Pages: 36

Filesize: 2,208KB

Format: pdf

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Identifying Pressures

Ireland is obliged under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) to report to the European Union on the ecological status of water bodies and to achieve good status in all our water bodies. As part of this commitment, the quality of transitional and coastal waters must be assessed and classified. One of the Biological Quality Elements (BQE) to be assessed is “angiosperms” a category which includes saltmarshes. However, no methodology to measure this BQE has previously existed for Ireland. This report collated existing data on Irish saltmarshes and the environmental pressures being exerted on them.

Informing Policy

Of 193 water bodies in Ireland containing saltmarsh, 40 were assessed using the developed tool. Initial results indicate that, using WFD categories, four (10.0%) had a BQE status of High, fifteen (37.5%) were Good, eighteen (45.0%) were Moderate and three (7.5%) were Poor. By describing criteria and targets which define good ecological status, this project assists policy makers to set national and local management objectives.  Knowledge gaps were identified in the functioning and ecosystem services of saltmarshes and the relationships between environmental pressures and ecological indicators.

Developing Solutions

Following a review of tools used by other Member States, a tool for monitoring and assessing saltmarsh in terms of the angiosperm BQE for transitional and coastal waters was developed to satisfy WFD requirements. A classification system for saltmarsh vegetation communities was also developed, using existing ecological data, to assist in application of this tool.