Catchment News

EPA Research Report 155: Public Engagement in Integrated Catchment Management

EPA Research 155 Front Cover

EPA Research 155 – Public engagement in Integrated Catchment Management

This study provides an overview of practical examples of public engagement and makes recommendations in an effort to contribute to the quest to determine viable, practicable and effective engagement techniques to secure meaningful participation by the public in the attainment of essential aquatic and biodiversity goals.

Identifying Pressures:

Water is an essential commodity: human life and indeed all life on earth depends upon it. The question is how will we deal with it such that it sustains us now and in the future? Effective water management is critical to the future well-being of Irish society. We need an adequate supply of good quality, safe water – for drinking, to protect biodiversity under the Habitats and Birds Directives, to obtain ‘good quality’ status for all waterbodies as specified by the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and for industrial and agricultural use, especially in the context of Food Harvest 2020 (FH2020) goals.

Informing Policy:

The Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) approach has been proposed (Harris, 2013; Daly, 2013) as being required to achieve effective water and catchment management, and implement the WFD. A key focus in ICM is developing a vision for the catchment, by involving local stakeholders. Article 14 of the WFD also specifies that consultation and involvement of the public be included as part of implementation, but EU WFD guidance states no blue-print exists for public participation, and the public participation process should be organised and adapted to national, regional and local circumstances. This study provides a practical guide to what works when engaging local communities around Ireland.

Developing Solutions:

Broadening the scope of possible management strategies by including different interests and stakeholder groups helps policy makers to develop flexible ways of managing the environment. This small scale study draws on StreamScapes 25 years of experience of delivering environmental education programmes around Ireland, focused on the aquatic environment and biodiversity. StreamScapes have helped local populations understand these issues at catchment scale. This report details the techniques they have developed for public engagement, and recommendations for the future.

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 waterbodies.

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 and Communities Office.

LAWCO

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.

EPA

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.

DECLG

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

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.