Project overview


For the first time in Ireland, the Irish Natural Capital for Sustainable Environments (INCASE) project will apply Natural Capital Accounting principles to a suite of ecosystem and geosystem services at river catchment scale across Ireland

Accounts based on the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) Central Framework and SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounts guidelines will be developed for four catchments to map the biotic and abiotic stocks and flows of these ecosystem services in biophysical terms and, where appropriate and useful, in monetary terms.

Our work will highlight challenges, knowledge and data gaps, and recommend a framework to operationalise Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland.

We will also produce a stock-flow coherent dataset, quality estimation methodology, and visualisation, flow diagrams by sector, a gap analysis and economic impact assessment.

INCASE is an EPA-funded research project. It kicked off in March 2019 and will run until 2023. The project has three phases, as follows: 

Phase 1 - Methods and Data: 
  • Literature review on natural capital accounting to explore the various methodologies that are in use around the world.

  • Identify the data sources at river catchment scale that are available to us, along with the data gaps. These data sources will inform the accounts, and contribute to the development of a framework to test the application of Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland.

  • Professor Jane Stout at Trinity College Dublin will lead this Work Package.

Phase 2 - Ecosystem Accounts:
  • Identify river catchments.

  • Collate existing datasets and develop indicators, and use them to generate a range of ecosystem accounts that describe habitat condition, habitat extent, as well as environmental flow accounts that might include water, land use and carbon.

  • Use these case studies to test the strengths and weaknesses of the accounts, and identify the data gaps.

  • Develop a framework to guide the appropriate use of monetary valuation and determine how these values can be integrated with existing economic and environmental policies to inform decision-making. While these accounts do not necessarily require monetary valuation, we will assess the efficacy of monetising the benefits to people that certain ecosystem services provide. 

  • Assoc. Prof Mary Kelly Quinn at University College Dublin will lead this Work Package.

Phase 3 - Economic Analysis:
  • Use an input-output model to assess the impact of policy change on natural capital stocks.

  • Use data visualisations to produce sectoral natural capital management frameworks.

  • Produce a gap analysis of information monitoring systems and policies underpinning them.

  • Conduct economic impact assessments to better understand the trade-offs between policy options.

  • Assoc. Prof Stephen Kinsella at the University of Limerick and Prof Cathal O'Donoghue at NUI Galway will each lead portions of this Work Package.

WATCH our animated explainer video An Introduction to Natural Capital:

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