Authors: Hugh B. Feeley, Michael Bruen, Craig Bullock, Mike Christie, Fiona Kelly and Mary Kelly-Quinn
Summary: The objective of this project is to harness the knowledge and tools required to embed an appreciation of ecosystem services and the ecosystems services approach into policy and decision-making for sustainable management of water resources, as required by the Water Framework Directive
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Ireland’s freshwaters are among the best in Europe. However, they are under increasing pressure from a range of land-use and other anthropogenic pressures, especially from elevated nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment inputs, but also increasingly from pesticides, water abstractions, and invasive species. The continuing loss of high status waters is a major concern. Ireland’s planned future land-use intensification for food production, together with climate change will further stress aquatic resources both in terms of quality and quantity. This report highlights the range of pressures currently facing freshwaters in Ireland and how these pressures have implications for a range of ecosystem services, and in turn, the goods and benefits society derives from them.
This report describes succinctly the ecosystem services framework as a tool to identify and value the goods and benefits provided by ecosystems and enable improved environmental management across the Irish landscape. Importantly it emphasises how the use of the ecosystem services framework can support the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Floods Directive (FD), integrated river basin/catchment planning, and management of freshwater resources.
In order to incorporate the ecosystem services framework into policy related to the management of freshwater resources the full range of Ireland’s freshwater ecosystems and their underlying biological resources must be identified. This report consolidates this knowledge and outlines current pressures and management structures relating to freshwaters in Ireland. It then identifies the diversity of ecosystem services Irish society derives from the full range of its freshwater resources and rates their relative importance. The report projects how the delivery and sustainability of ecosystem services provided by Irish freshwaters may change in relation to selected management strategies into the future and describes the resulting implications for the achievement of WFD and FD goals.
Previous Publications from this project: