Research 191: Delivering Integrated Catchment Management through the Bottom-up Approach: A Critical Analysis

Authors: John Ballinger, Travis O’Doherty, Fran Igoe, Catherine Dalton, Brendan O’Keeffe and Bryan Riney

Summary: Research report 191 - A Critical Analysis of Delivering Integrated Catchment Management through the Bottom-up Approach

Research 191 thumbnail

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84095-671-9

Pages: 40

Filesize: 1,154 KB

Format: pdf


Identifying pressures

Managing our water is essential to support life and protect our ecosystems. Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) is about bringing water issues, people, and organisations together at the right scale in order to achieve effective management solutions which benefit all stakeholders. It incorporates what legislation says we need to do (i.e. from the top down), with the aspirations of the community (i.e. from the bottom-up). It integrates environmental, economic and social issues within a catchment into a coherent management strategy. Expert guidance can help communities to participate in the development, and implementation of an agreed vision of sustainable land and water use for their catchment. This research conducted interviews with programme managers and other key stakeholders from eighteen ICM projects. Problems, including gaps, barriers and constraints encountered in the implementation of an ICM programme are identified, and recommendations are made to help guide the management of a collaborative catchment group. The information thus gathered, contributes to the wider rollout of ICM projects in Ireland.

Informing policy

Under the European Union’s Water Framework Directive, Member States are required to take a holistic approach to the management of water bodies, and to encourage the involvement of interested parties and non-governmental organisations in water quality issues. They must facilitate access to the information for the preparation of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs). The first cycle RBMPs were published in 2010, but were criticised for the lack of community engagement during their development. Planning is currently underway for the second cycle which will be adopted in 2017 and run until 2021. The main deliverable from this research project is a guidance document which can help communities to participate in the development, and implementation, of an agreed vision of sustainable land and water use for their catchment.

Developing Solutions

The River Allow Catchment Management Group (RACMG) was examined as a real time practical example of bottom-up engagement with local communities and key stakeholders. Ten case studies from Ireland (Allow, Bantry Bay, Burren, Mulkear, Owenmore, Owenduff, Glenamoy, Lough Leane, Lough Melvin, Raised bog Conservation), and eight case studies from abroad (UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada) were critically examined. Interviews were conducted with programme managers and key stakeholders. Three key phases were identified in the collaborative ICM process; 1) establishing collaborative groups, 2) running collaborative groups, and 3) implementing collaborative group recommendations. At each phase recommendations are made on how to complete the process.[1].jpg