Applications of a Novel Method of Ecosystem Services Assessment into Local Policy Making in the River Blackwater Estuary, Ireland
Environmental effects of industries and plants
Renewable energy sources
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AbstractThis article describes a method to allow for the incorporation of ecosystem services (ES) into policy, applied to the case of the River Blackwater Estuary, County Cork. The concept of ES has become mainstreamed into many country’s policies worldwide. However, practical applications of ES assessment are still far from mainstream. This paper aims to assess ES in three sites to inform site selection for conservation and enhancement measures. First, ES likely to occur in the proposed development sites were identified based on literature review, interviews and expert judgement. Second an assessment methodology involving a public survey was developed and applied. Finally, the results of the assessment were aggregated based on the use level for cultural services and the on-site area for regulating and provisioning services; the results were normalised and synthesised to produce a replicable basis for comparison across the sites. The assessment demonstrated a low-cost, practical methodology for incorporating ES into local decision-making. Regulating and cultural services were most valued at the three sites, with limited levels of provisioning services being provided. While pollination (a supporting service/intermediate regulating service) received highest overall scores, a suite of cultural services was also highly valued. The survey suggested that public engagement with ES concepts may be hampered by technical jargon, such as that employed by the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES), and also illustrated that in this case the public engaged better with the intermediate or supporting ES of pollination than other final services that provided benefits directly to them. The implications of these findings for future applications and the assessment methodology are discussed.