Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments (INCASE Project)

Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments (INCASE) is an EPA-funded research project. It kicked off in March 2019 and will run until 2023.

INCASE is the first Irish project to develop natural capital accounts for different sites in Ireland.​

The project team will prepare accounts for four catchments across Ireland using the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) Central Framework and SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounts guidelines. 

​Accounts for the four catchments will map the stocks and flows of ecosystem and geosystem services, highlight challenges, knowledge and data gaps, and recommend a framework to operationalise Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland.

Selecting the catchments

To choose the catchments for the project, we knew we wanted consider catchments that capture the flow from ‘mountains to sea’. ​We knew that if we wanted to scale up natural capital accounting nationally, we should choose catchments that already had reliable, nationally-available datasets. ​We wanted to maximise stakeholder engagement and synergies with existing projects so that we could gather as much as possible on the catchments in question. ​Our other considerations included geology, soils, climate, land-use, population, infrastructure and pressures. ​With all that in mind, we held a catchment selection workshop in November 2019 at which we decided on the four catchments listed below.

You can also find a detailed overview of each catchment in the Appendix to the Feasibility report.

Phase 1 – Methods and Data: 
  • Produce a literature review on natural capital accounting to explore the various methodologies that are in use around the world.
  • Identify available data sources a;ong with data gaps. These data sources will inform the accounts, and contribute to the development of a framework for Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland.
  • Professor Jane Stout ofTrinity College Dublin leads this Work Package.
Phase 2 – Ecosystem Accounts:
  • Select four river catchments for study.
  • Collate existing datasets and develop indicators, and use them to generate a range of ecosystem accounts that describe habitat condition, habitat extent, as well as environmental flow accounts that might include water, land use and carbon.
  • Use these case studies to test the strengths and weaknesses of the accounts, and identify the data gaps.
  • Develop a framework to guide the appropriate use of monetary valuation and determine how these values can be integrated with existing economic and environmental policies to inform decision-making. While these accounts do not necessarily require monetary valuation, we will assess the efficacy of monetising the benefits to people that certain ecosystem services provide. 
  • Professor Mary Kelly Quinn of University College Dublin leads this Work Package.

Phase 3 – Economic Analysis:
  • Use an input-output model to assess the impact of policy change on natural capital stocks.
  • Use data visualisations to produce sectoral natural capital management frameworks.
  • Produce a gap analysis of information monitoring systems and policies underpinning them.
  • Conduct economic impact assessments to better understand the trade-offs between policy options.
  • Professor Stephen Kinsella of the University of Limerick and Professor Cathal O’Donoghue of NUI Galway each lead portions of this Work Package.

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