The marine and coastal ecosystems around the island of Ireland provide many valuable benefits to the Irish economy and society. These benefits, generated by nature, are known as ‘Ecosystem Services’. These ecosystem services can be broken down into three main groupings.
- Provisioning services – These ecosystem services are tangible goods and there is often a direct connection between the ecosystem and the provision of these ecosystem services. Examples of the provisioning ecosystem services generated by Irish marine and coastal ecosystems are the marine fish and seaweed harvested and also the aquaculture resources around our coasts.
- Regulating and maintenance services – These ecosystem services regulate the world around us and often are consumed indirectly or happen in the background. Examples of these ecosystem services include carbon sequestration which helps to mitigate climate change, treatment of our wastewater and its return to the hydrological cycle and flood and storm protection by sand dunes and saltmarsh which lessens the damage done by winter storms.
- Cultural services – The cultural ecosystem services refer to the psychical, psychological and spiritual benefits that humans obtain from contact with nature. Examples of the cultural ecosystem services in the Irish marine and coastal zones include recreational activities such as walking along the beach, surfing and also the added value that having a sea view from your house has on your well-being.
This project aims to map and value the ecosystem services generated in the coastal and marine zones around Ireland. Valuation involves the measurement of the benefits that an individual can get from a good or service. While the value of some these goods such as fish and aquaculture are somewhat easier to measure, the value of many other benefits such as carbon sequestration, waste treatment and recreation are not captured in any market. Without incorporating these values into the decision making processes, these benefits may be ignored or underestimated and changes within coastal and marine zones may incur a net loss to Irish society.
under the EPA Research Strategy 2014-2020