Catchment News

EPA Research 208: Freshwater Ecosystem Services – An Introduction for Stakeholders (ESManage Project)

The EPA has published the EPA Research Report No 208: ESManage Project: Freshwater Ecosystem Services – An Introduction for Stakeholders.

View the report

The report can be downloaded now from the EPA website:

The objective of the ESManage project is to harness the knowledge and tools required to embed an appreciation of ecosystem services and the ecosystems services approach into policy and decision-making for sustainable management of water resources, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). In addition to this report, the ESManage project will produce reports relating to each of the work packages  and a  report on Irish freshwater resources in the context of ecosystem services. A total of 22 workshops will be held to engage stakeholders. A consolidated biological database will be assembled and a new computer tool incorporating ecological data will be developed for inclusion in the CMST package as an added-value. One PhD thesis, at least 12 peer-reviewed publications and several other communication outputs, including website, will be produced. The final outputs will be the technical and synthesis reports, and a policy brief.

Authors: Hugh B. Feeley, Michael Bruen, Craig Bullock, Mike Christie,Fiona Kelly, Kyriaki Remoundou, Ewa Siwicka and Mary Kelly-Quinn

EPA-funded research generates a scientific base to support environmental protection.  Projects are carefully targeted to deliver on three key areas: Identifying pressures; Informing policy

Inform policy

The ESManage Literature Review for Stakeholders provides an overview of information on the ecosystem services framework, the role of biodiversity in ecosystem service provision, and how the concept aligns with the objectives of current policy and legislation to inform management of freshwater resources. The specific benefits of incorporating the ecosystem services framework into the implementation of the WFD relate to illustrating how human wellbeing is dependent on good ecological health, biodiversity and widening the focus from good ecological status as an end in itself to showing how it supports societal goals. Additionally, it allows for the proper assessment and communication of the benefits and co-benefits of implementing the WFD, highlighting potential trade-offs involved in selecting cost-effective measures but also avoiding unintended impacts of measures on other benefits (not directly associated with the measure). Other relevant policy measures such as the EU Biodiversity Strategy aim to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restore them in so far as feasible.

Develop solutions

The ESManage Literature Review for Stakeholders highlights the types of ecosystem services, the main ecosystem services classification scheme known as CICES, and identifies the chain of knowledge required to get from basic science to policy application and the management of freshwater resources. This review provides an overview of the ESManage project approach to understanding the complex ecological linkages between the health and resilience of the ecosystem (critically dependent on biodiversity) and the provision of ecosystem services, goods and benefits for human wellbeing. It also highlights the importance of stakeholder involvement, and their perceptions, in incorporating ecosystem services into policy and water management.

The EPA Research team would  like to thank the following for  their time, effort and guidance towards the successful completion of the project: Dr Catherine Bradley, Mr Alexandre Bredimas, Dr Colin Byrne, Mr Donal Daly, Dr J. Iwan Jones, Mr Martin McGarrigle, Dr Marc Metzger, Ms Petrina Rowcroft and Dr Tom Stafford.

Useful Links:

ESManage website:

Project Team

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 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures 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 that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.