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- PublicationUnderstanding and measuring quality of life in Ireland : sustainability, happiness and well-beingIn the last decade, the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy grew at a record rate for a developed country.Nevertheless, there has been much concern regarding the implications of the pace of economic growth for localised environmental quality and life satisfaction generally. It has long been recognised by economists, psychologists and others that traditional macro-measures of national income such as GDP and GNP are inadequate measures of the performance of an economy and wider society – such measures are unable to give value to environmental and social capital and are unable to capture the performance of a country in sustainability terms. The briefing note outlines the various approaches to measuring quality of life and sustainability for Ireland specifically focusing on a modified genuine savings approach and the use of life satisfaction scores to measure well-being and individual happiness with life. The paper presents results for Ireland. Finally, the paper discusses the importance of this research for developing an evidence-base for public policy and sets out the need for investment in such research.
- PublicationESManage Programme: Irish Freshwater Resources and Assessment of Ecosystem Services ProvisionFreshwater is vital for all forms of life and it is a key requirement in almost all human activities. The societal importance of water has been highlighted by the United Nations, with access to clean water and sanitation regarded as a universal human right. Consequently, the sustainable management of freshwater resources has gained importance at regional, international and global scales. However, the activities of humankind affect freshwater resources extensively, in terms of both quantity and quality, through a variety of activities ranging from abstraction of water for drinking and irrigation to waste disposal. Today, worldwide freshwater ecosystems are undergreat pressure and are one of the most endangered ecosystems. Furthermore, climate change, especially in relation to precipitation patterns and flooding, will result in the traditional norms being replaced with increased variability and unpredictability, with knock-on effects for human societies and well-being.
- PublicationCost-benefit analysis of a resource and environmental survey of IrelandThe Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) has proposed that a national geochemical and airborne geophysical survey of Ireland be undertaken. Together with independent input from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, this would cover the whole county. The proposed survey has been termed the Resource and Environment Survey of Ireland (RESI). This paper contains an ex-ante cost-benefit analysis of the GSI’s proposal. This analysis reveals a benefit-cost ratio of 5.0.
- PublicationStudy to identify and assess relevant instruments and incentives to reduce the use of single-use and other items, which impact the marine environment as marine litterMarine litter is a serious and global environmental problem that is amongst the most challenging to address. This challenge arises from the various types of marine litter, the range of sources and the inadequacy of single options to address the problem. Regionally, the composition of marine litter varies, but its sources can be sea-based, coastal or exist well inland with litter carried by rivers to the sea where ocean currents transport it around the globe without respect for national borders. The ocean is a free access resource as regards its capacity to act as a sink for waste. Therefore, just as liquid pollutants have been piped out to sea without cost to the polluter, so marine litter can be associated with poor regulation or policing of the fishing, marine transport and cruise ship industries. However, marine litter is also a product of our consumer society and so is a problem that increases in severity with economic growth, development and wealth. This problem presents significant economic and environmental costs in terms of the evident and potential impacts to wildlife, tourism, functioning ecosystems, fish catches and human health. This report examines the particular contribution of single-use consumer items to marine litter. In beach surveys, these items are very prevalent and include bottle tops and caps, bottles, cans, food containers, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, sanitary products and balloons, amongst other identifiable items. The small size, colour and durability of these items means that they each present distinct environmental and ecological costs. One characteristic of this litter is that a very high proportion is comprised of plastic, typically different types of plastic polymers with varying levels of additives. Another characteristic is that much of this litter is represented by packaging, including its use as containers for food and drinks. There are measures that can be taken to address marine litter. These include some obvious candidates such as raising awareness of the problem and its environmental cost, enlisting the support of coastal communities to deal with the problem, and providing a sufficient number of bins to reduce the temptation to littering. These measures can be targeted to locations where there is a particular risk of litter finding its way into the marine environment, namely coastal resorts, but also areas beside rivers.
- PublicationValuing urban green space : hypothetical alternatives and the status-quo(JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science), 2006)
- PublicationEco-Health: Ecosystem Benefits of Greenspace for HealthThe Eco-Health project explores the health benefits of ecosystems services as a means to supply evidence and tools for developing health promoting environments or ‘healthy places’.
- PublicationRed deer culls, Scots pine and the stalking client(Scottish Natural Heritage, 2001)1. This study examines the prospects for changes in deer management which meet the needs of both the stalking fraternity and conservationists. 2. We approach the problem from a less familiar angle, namely that of the needs of people who pay for stalking and of deer managers. 3. The study applied an economic method called choice experimentation to establish the weight and the monetary value that stalkers attach to attributes of their stalking trip. Attributes include such factors as “numbers of stags“, “trophy value“ and “the stalking landscape“. Their respective parameters can be combined to arrive at paying amateur stalkers’ valuation of alternative stalking packages, including such factors as higher quality stags typical of better deer management or more forested environments.
- PublicationIncorporation of Ecosystem Services values in the Integrated Management of Irish Freshwater Resources - ESManageThe ESManage project tested an eight-step methodological framework to help embed ecosystem services and the ecosystem services approach into policy and decision-making for the sustainable management of water resources, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It involved identification of relevant freshwater ecosystem services, prediction of how they change when management measures are implemented and economic valuation of those changes. The focus of the research was on ecosystem services from rivers, engaging stakeholders in three case study catchments to explore the ecosystem services derived from these very different rivers and undertake economic valuation of the benefits that people obtain from enhancements to ecosystem services in those rivers. Modelling, using both a hydrological and a nutrient load apportionment model, was used to quantify changes in flows and inputs of pollutants (nutrients and sediment) associated with the alternative catchment management scenarios (e.g. intensification, extensification and riparian measures such as tree planting), whereas Bayesian belief network modelling was used to predict the resulting changes in ecological responses and their effects on selected ecosystem services (e.g. clean water, angling, wildlife). The focus was on managing diffuse pollution from agriculture, assuming unchanged inputs from domestic septic tanks and point sources, e.g. wastewater treatment plants, that also contribute to water quality problems in the study catchments. The intensification scenarios considered potentially pro rata changes in nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment inputs assumed to arise from an increase in stocking density, whereas extensification related to the corresponding effects as a result of reductions in stocking density. The “choice experiment” valuation technique was then used to quantify the economic benefits that people obtained from enhancements to river ecosystem services. In addition, data were collected on the cost of wastewater treatment to demonstrate the benefits of natural regulating ecosystem services.
- PublicationMobilising Finance for Biodiversity: A policy and institutional review of finance arrangements for biodiversity conservation in IrelandThis Policy and Institutional Review (PIR) for Ireland is intended to characterise biodiversity spending and the context in which it is made. It examines direct spending and indirect spending in areas of environmental protection. It also looks at the extent to which Government Departments and Agencies consider biodiversity in their core policies, whether the sectors for which they have responsibility are supported by biodiversity and ecosystem services, and whether some of their policies conflict with biodiversity. The PIR complements the national biodiversity expenditure review (NBER) undertaken in 2017 and will inform the financial needs assessment now being undertaken to determine thetype of expenditure needed to implement the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2021-2025, along with the question of how to mobilise these resources.
- PublicationUsing choice experiments to value urban greenspace(Edward Elgar, 2006)