Natural capital accounting to inform peatland restoration in Ireland: learnings from the INCASE project

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Catherine A. Farrell, Lisa Coleman, Daniel Norton, Mary Kelly-Quinn, Carl Obst, Mark Eigenraam, Cathal O’Donoghue, Stephen Kinsella, Orlaith Delargy, Jane C. Stout

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The INCASE (Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments) project is piloting the UN System of Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) – Ecosystem Accounting (EA) at catchment scale in Ireland. This involves collating a range of environmental data to map contrasting catchments, each of which comprise a diversity of ecosystems including grasslands, croplands, peatlands, heathlands, woodlands, forests, coastal, freshwater and urban systems. As human pressures increase as a result of growing population / density and/or changes in land-use, there are resultant effects on ecosystems. Mapping the extent, type and condition of ecosystems in each catchment, and relating the stocks of natural capital to the flows of services and benefits over accounting periods can inform better decision making and support sustainable development. An emerging feature of the work to date, is the worsening ecological condition of peatlands as a result of longterm use for energy and fuel, and as land for agriculture and afforestation. In Ireland, agriculture remains the predominant land-use, having a significant influence on both ecosystem extent and condition nationally, while dependent on EU policies and global markets. National climate policy highlights the carbon costs of increasing the intensive nature of agricultural practices, and this is reflected in policies relating to afforestation and peatland restoration targets to offset national agricultural GHG emissions. We explore how natural capital (ecosystem) accounting can inform policy trade-offs between agriculture, forestry, peatland use and climate action to effect restoration of degraded peatlands for climate, water and biodiversity.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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