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EPA Research Report No 187: ESManage Literature Review – Ecosystem Services in Freshwaters.

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The EPA has published Research Report No 187: ESManage Literature Review – Ecosystem Services in Freshwaters.

This Literature Review considers how the ecosystem services framework aligns with the objectives of current policy and legislation to inform management of freshwater resources.  In addition to this literature review the 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

Link to report


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 and Developing solutions.

Identifying Pressures

Ireland’s freshwaters are among the best in Europe. However, they are under increasing pressure from a range of land-use and other anthropogenic pressures, especially from elevated nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment inputs. The continuing loss of high status waters is a key concern. Planned future land-use intensification for food production, together with climate change will further stress aquatic resources both in terms of quality and quantity. The ESManage Literature Review highlights how pressures have implications for a range of ecosystem services derived from freshwaters.

Informing Policy

The ESManage Literature Review considers how the ecosystem services framework aligns with the objectives of current policy and legislation to inform management of freshwater resources. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the key EU driver requiring Member States to improve and sustainably manage water quality. 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 and widening the focus from good ecological status as an end in itself to showing how it supports societal goals.

Developing Solutions

Identification of the chain of knowledge and data needs, as outlined in the ESManage Literature Review, is a key step in efforts to incorporate the ecosystem services framework into policy related to the management of freshwater resources. This review details these information needs and associated knowledge gaps, especially with respect to understanding the complex ecological linkages between the health and resilience of the ecosystem (critically dependent on biodiversity) and the provision of ecosystem services, converting this understanding into projections of possible future changes in ecosystem services provision that can be understood by the wider public, and identifying the means by which this public can value such changes to ecosystem service provision.


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, Dr Donal Daly, Dr J. Iwan Jones, Mr Martin McGarrigle, Dr Marc Metzger, Ms Petrina Rowcroft, Dr Tom Stafford and Dr Alice Wemaere.


Contact Details for Principal Investigator  & First Author


Associate Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn

School of Biology and Environmental Science

University College Dublin



Tel.: +353 1 716 2337



Dr Hugh B. Feeley

School of Biology and Environmental Science

University College Dublin



Tel.: +353 1 716 2339




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 4,842 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.