Natural Capital Ireland has expertise in delivering on research, project facilitation, report-writing, stakeholder engagement work and more—you can keep up with our most recent work. Click the project title or scroll on to read below.
THE NCI REPORT SERIES:
Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments
Natural Capital Ireland is a partner on the pioneering EPA-funded INCASE project, which is the first project to apply Natural Capital Accounting principles to catchments in Ireland.
The project team is preparing accounts for four catchments across Ireland using the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) Central Framework and SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounts guidelines.
Accounts for the four catchments will map the stocks and flows of ecosystem and geosystem services, highlight challenges, knowledge and data gaps, and recommend a framework to operationalise Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland.
The purpose of these accounts is to support more informed decision-making by policymakers, land owners and managers and a range of other stakeholders. Natural Capital Accounts integrate economic and environmental themes, and provide an evidence base for investments in rural development, health and much more.
The project runs from 2019-2023, with recent updates including that:
Our Introduction to Natural Capital Accounting video launched in July 2020, and has since been translated into Russian and Hindi;
The INCASE Feasibility Report was published in July 2020;
A stakeholder briefing was held online in February 2021, with presentations from international experts, plus we held catchment workshops over the summer.
Irish business and biodiversity
Natural Capital Ireland, with Optimize, AECOM, and former EPA Director Micheál Ó Cinnéide, delivered on a study commissioned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service into how Irish businesses can better support national biodiversity objectives.
The project team conducted a survey of 122 Irish businesses to gauge their knowledge of and action on biodiversity. The project also assessed the appetite for developing a national Business and Biodiversity Platform to support businesses in protecting and restoring biodiversity, which is now active as Business For Biodiversity - an online hub also facilitated by NCI and backed by Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage.
Key findings of the report:
Irish businesses are taking some action on biodiversity - such as engaging staff, growing pollinator friendly plants and installing beehives
Conversely, businesses do not tend to account for their strategic environmental impacts:
Only 22% have completed a review of their direct environmental footprint and 13% have completed a review of environmental impacts in their supply chain
Just 20% say that their policy to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals is complete.
Businesses could be missing out on opportunities to gain competitive advantage and win market share, with less than half (43%) viewing action on biodiversity as a business opportunity.
There was broad support for the establishment of a national Business and Biodiversity Platform, as a forum for peer-to-peer learning on biodiversity, with networking and advice from the Government.
Data 4 Nature workshop
Natural Capital Ireland organised and hosted a Data 4 Nature workshop on May 11th, 2021 which was funded under the Open Data Engagement Fund of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with additional funding from the Office of Public Works.
The online event had over 100 attendees at two morning and evening sessions, in which we took a closer look at the state-of-play for nature-related data in Ireland. Speakers included data collectors, publishers and users, with some of Ireland’s major bodies responsible for nature—National Parks & Wildlife Service and the National Biodiversity Data Centre—represented.
Two examples of challenges faced in collating, accessing, analysing and formatting data for nature research included:
Data analyst Lisa Coleman of INCASE is working with over 200 datasets from different agencies in order to accurately map the various forms of natural capital we find at catchment level in Ireland.
The Demeter project has over 60 European partners with 6,000 farmers working on a project to bring the agri-food sector through the rapid adoption of data science and smart farming for long-term viability and sustainability.
All content is publicly available—just click the workshop hub button below to view slides and videos from the sessions.
This event was convened in order to produce a report to the Minister for State with Responsibility for Communications Ossian Smyth that provides recommendations for improving the availability and accessibility of data to support nature research and conservation.
Click the button below to access the final Data 4 Nature Report:
National Biodiversity Forum
A report in response to Ireland's Biodiversity Action Plan
Natural Capital Ireland facilitated a series of workshops with members of the National Biodiversity Forum for an interim review of the National Biodiversity Action Plan and delivered a commentary report on the plan to Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan.
The National Biodiversity Forum acts as an independent advisory group to the Minister and includes some of Ireland’s leading conservation experts.
The report called on the government to radically step up efforts to address the biodiversity crisis - and ensure Ireland's next Biodiversity Action Plan is an “impact plan”.
The report made 5 key recommendations:
Ensure effective governance & stewardship
Finance the plan and prioritise action
Recover, restore, renew biodiversity & ecosystems
Build, connect & use the knowledge base
Engage communities & private sector
Teaching Natural Capital & Ecosystem Services Approaches in Higher Education in Ireland
How is natural capital being taught in higher education?
In 2021, Natural Capital Ireland ran a survey to gather data from educators on how third-level institutions in Ireland are integrating natural capital and ecosystem services concepts and approaches into curricula.
We asked people to fill out the survey even if they do not currently incorporate natural capital concepts in their courses - we would like to better understand the uptake (or lack thereof) of natural capital topics across key disciplines, as well as gain insight into the awareness of and the challenges of teaching these approaches.
Our findings will be used to advance the understanding and application of natural capital concepts in Ireland with more wide-ranging surveys to be conducted as the approach becomes more commonplace.
Addressing the Integration of Forest-Related Ecosystem Services into Non-Forestry Policy Areas & Sectors
This NCI study for the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine carried out a review of 40 national policy documents across key sectors in Ireland to analyse the potential for forestry ecosystem services (ES) to contribute towards 7 priority policy areas: health; community development; environment/land use planning; education; transport; foreign aid and culture and sport.
An online workshop was also held with representatives across a broad range of national policy areas to identify opportunities towards the greater integration of forestry ES within each sector and potential barriers. The study finds that there is significant potential for forestry ES to contribute further to national policy objectives.
However, changes to agriculture funding, improved accessibility and greater interdepartmental engagement are required to encourage buy-in from relevant sectors, ensure equality in participation and allow for objective achievement across sectors.