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  • INCASE Team

Pt4/4 Sustainable Development - Working towards better water quality

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Expanse of rippled river, landscape with bridge, trees under grey and silver clouds
River Liffey, Blessington, Co Wicklow

The fourth and final in our current series of blogs by DR CATHERINE FARRELL highlights how INCASE will use the System of Environmental Economic Accounting to aid assessment, reporting and improvement of water quality in our catchments.

INCASE will pilot the development of a suite of relevant natural capital accounts at catchment scale to provide a comprehensive view of the stocks of natural capital assets and the flows of services within each catchment. The work is pioneering, and over the course of the next couple of years we will streamline the process of applying the SEEA framework, so that it can be extended nationally. Key outcomes will be identifying critical data sets and standardising the approach in the Irish context.

Through a process of learning by doing, working with key stakeholders like the CSO and NPWS, INCASE will explore how these stocks and flows relate to society.

Four catchments have been selected for INCASE, representing a range of conditions and characteristics.

  • The Caragh in West Kerry is a predominantly peatland catchment with considerable data already gathered by the KerryLIFE and PMP projects.

  • The Dargle in Wicklow has similar features, but it is also an extension of our capital city Dublin with an expanding population in a coastal context.

  • The Bride in Cork is a pastoral farming catchment with another EIP ongoing – the BRIDE regenerative farming project.

  • In complete contrast, the Figile River (at the headwaters of the River Barrow) in the industrial peatland landscape of East Offaly has a number of challenges in relation to peatland management and water quality.

While Natural Capital Accounting has a range of potential uses and applications, the central focus of INCASE is to inform how NCA (specifically the SEEA approach), can assist with reporting and/or working towards water protection and management in the context of implementation of the Water Famework Directive River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for Ireland in the period 2022-2027.

INCASE will link the NCA approach with the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) approach already in use in RBMPs. ICM was originally developed as the approach in Ireland for water management as awareness grew of the connectedness of our natural environment (water, habitats, soils, GHG emissions) and of the co-benefits of considering all natural systems (eco-, geo-, atmospheric systems) together as a broader interconnected system. Thus, highlighting that catchments are landscape units where these systems align. Linking NCA with ICM, thereby broadens the perspective of ICM as used and promoted by the EPA Catchments Unit, bringing focus to the dependencies between land use planning and environmental management in general.

You can find out more in our INCASE Feasibility Report.

READ Part 3/4 in our Sustainable Development series.

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