Catchment News

Environmental Sensitivity Mapping (ESM) tool launched

The Environmental Sensitivity Mapping (ESM) Webtool is a novel GIS decision-support tool for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and planning processes in Ireland. Bringing together more than 100 public datasets, the tool allows planners to examine environmental considerations within their plan area and create plan-specific environmental sensitivity maps. These maps can help planners anticipate potential land-use conflicts, thus informing the identification of suitable development locations while protecting the environment. As well as its primary use in SEA and planning, the tool will also be useful for a wide range of other sectors and applications.

A new decision-support tool for Strategic Environmental Assessment and planning in Ireland

The ESM Webtool is funded by the EPA and developed and maintained by researchers at UCD’s School of Geography and the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) at Maynooth University. The tool is hosted by OSi on the GeoHive Portal.

The ESM tool on Geohive

Lean more:

Pictured at the launch of the ESM Webtool at the Environment Ireland 2019 conference (L to R): Tara Higgins (EPA), Eoghan McCarthy (AIRO), Colin Bray (OSi), Justin Gleeson (AIRO), Ainhoa González (UCD), Laura Burke (EPA), Matt Crowe (EPA).

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.