Research 389: Evaluating the Multiple Values of Nature – ESDecide: from an Ecosystem Services Framework to Application for Integrated Freshwater Resources Management

Authors: Mike Christie, Jasper Kenter, Craig Bullock, Michael Bruen, Marcin Penk, Christian Feld and Mary Kelly-Quinn

Summary: The Water Framework Directive requires the EPA to monitor the quality of water in Ireland’s rivers and lakes. This research reviewed the multiple values and benefits of nature, often termed ‘ecosystem services’ or’ nature’s contributions to people (NCPs)’. It provides insights into the multiple ways people value rivers and associated ecosystem services/ NCPs. The research also developed a decision support tool to assess the impacts on ecosystem services/NCPs of alternative river catchment measures.

Research 389

Published: 2021

ISBN: 978-1-80009-012-5

Pages: 26

Filesize: 1,571 KB

Format: pdf

Download

Identifying Pressures

The Water Framework Directive requires the EPA to monitor the quality of water in Ireland’s rivers and lakes. Evidence from these assessments indicates that only around half of Irish rivers are in satisfactory ecological health and that overall water quality is declining. The main cause of this decline is nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) from agriculture and waste water entering rivers, which leads to algal blooms and oxygen depletion. Poor ecological conditions of rivers have impacts on the drinking water we extract, the river biodiversity (birds, fish, invertebrates) we appreciate and our level of enjoyment when using rivers for recreation. Improving the ecological condition of rivers and lakes will benefit both biodiversity and people’s well-being. The ESDecide report on the multiple values of nature provides a framework for identifying and evaluating these impacts.

Informing Policy

The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to improve and sustainably manage water quality. Improving the ecological condition of rivers and other freshwater habitats has benefits for both people and nature. These benefits are often termed “ecosystem services” or “nature’s contributions to people” (NCPs). Alternative catchment management policy options will deliver different bundles of ecosystem services/NCPs, which will vary in terms of their impacts on different stakeholder groups. Policy options must be developed to maximise benefits and ensure that these benefits are distributed equitably. The ESDecide literature review on the multiple values of nature provides a synthesis of recent research on the multiple ways people value nature and associated ecosystem services/NCPs. Insights from this review can therefore help decision-makers understand and evaluate the impacts of catchment management policies.

Developing Solutions

The ESDecide literature review on the multiple values of nature provides insights into the multiple ways people value rivers and associated ecosystem services/NCPs. These insights can be used develop frameworks that evaluate the benefits and costs associated with alternative river catchment policies. For example, in the ESDecide project, we developed a decision support tool to assess the impacts on ecosystem services/NCPs of alternative river catchment measures. Evidence from the review can be used to provide a framework to then evaluate (using monetary and/or non-monetary indicators) the values that people would attain from the alternative policy options, and to identify potential conflict associated with those options. Such evidence can then be used to select options that deliver best value for money.

https://www.epa.ie/media/epa-2020/research/epa-funded-research/Report-cover-389.jpg