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ESDecide: from Ecosystem Services Framework to Application for Integrated Freshwater Resources Management

The overall aim of ESDecide is to develop an evidence-based decision support tool for Irelands freshwater resources. This is being achieved by extending the scope of the previous ESManage project through the collection of new evidence and then incorporating these into a practical decision support tool. The new evidence collected include (i) models of the responses of ecosystems and associated ES to multiple stressors and (ii) monetary and non-monetary values for river ES/NCP. This new evidence will feed into an updated BBN model of river systems, which will form the basis of the decision support tool.

The project objectives will be achieved through five work packages, two of which are related to management of the research activities (WP1) and communication of its outputs (WP5). WP2 will compile and synthesise multiple stressor studies and cases into a single dataset, which will then be used to establish the empirical basis of multiple pressure impact-response relationships and ES. WP3 will assess monetary and non-monetary valuation of river NCP. Data from WP2 and 3 will then be incorporated into a more sophisticated Bayesian Belief Network model, that will be used as the foundations of a decision support tool (WP4).

ESDecide conceptual framework

WP1: Project Management & Reporting (led by Mary Kelly-Quinn, UCD)

WP2: Multiple pressure impact-response relationships (led by Jeremy Piggott, TCD)

  • Objectives: (i) Establish multiple pressure impact-response relationships, (ii) Strengthen and expand the number of services in the original ESManage BBN with empirical data quantifying ecosystem functions and services.
  • Expected outcomes: Empirical underpinning of the BBN towards a decision support tool.

WP3: Valuing river NCP and embedding the plurality of values into decision making (led by Mike Christie, BIC)

  • Objectives: To move beyond traditional monetary valuation of river ecosystem services, to evaluate a wider range of rivers NCP (and social-cultural values in particular), and explore approaches that can be used to embed this plurality of river NCP into decision making.
  • Expected outcomes: This WP will provide one of the first context specific applications of the IPBES NCP approach. Specifically, we will apply the IPBES framework to the assessment of the plurality of values of river NCP at a national level. The WP will also form a critique of the IPBES approach in terms of reviewing how the IPBES framework captures the plurality of social-cultural values currently being discussed in the valuation literature. Finally, the NCP values will feed into WP4, which explores how values might best be embedded into decision making.

WP4: Decision support for ES/NCP management (co-led by Christian Feld, UDE & Michael Bruen, UCD)

  • Objectives: Adapt the MARS Diagnostic Tool for decision support.
  • Expected outcomes: The Diagnostic Tools will help water managers identify the most influential stressors/pressures affecting their water bodies and individual ES/NCPs. The tool will fill the gap between biological status monitoring, the effects of status on ES/NCPs and the derivation of appropriate management
    options to improve status and ES/NCP provision. This will ensure a more ES/NCP-focussed management in the future, to address also the demands of society for healthy and joyful aquatic ecosystems.

WP5: Communication (led by Mary Kelly-Quinn, UCD)

ESDecide expert workshop, January 2020

Partner institutions (led by UCD):

Funded under the EPA Research Programme