Integrated Environmental Management and Monitoring System


Project Background:

Estuaries are rich in biodiversity and support a diverse range of social and economic activities. As a result they tend to attract human activity, are heavily populated and subject to natural and anthropogenic stress.  Human activity can lead to conflict and degradation of natural systems and are often managed in a fragmented manner. Given that estuaries are favoured sites for urban, port and industrial activities, as well as the anthropogenic pressures emanating from the catchment and marine environment, estuaries tend to be under more pressure than other ecosystems. This makes effective estuarine management a complex task as it must address a wide range of issues, including water quality, spatial management and resource use (e.g. fisheries management). ‌Furthermore, estuarine management addresses the interface of land, sea and rivers and is thus a combination of land use, river and coastal management regimes. Estuary management operates within complex jurisdictional and governance frameworks and must seek to facilitate a multitude of stakeholders to deliver sustainable estuarine management.


‌‌This project involves developing an Integrated Environmental Management and Monitoring system (EMMS) for Irish estuarine and coastal ecosystems based on a model of best practice.  A normative EMMS template will be devised based on the outputs of relevant case studies, with the aim of adopting integrated estuary management across Ireland.

The project will, in turn, provide a response to obligations under a number of EU Directives (Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Floods Directive, Natura 2000) and will make a major contribution to developing Irish marine and coastal policy. Drawing on examples of international good practice and the critical assessment of two Irish case studies, the project will develop a robust and transferrable estuary management template applicable to the Republic of Ireland. The development of good practice guidelines is likely to be relevant to other jurisdictions, as well as to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) practitioners. 


The overall findings of this study will enhance the capacity of decision-makers to conserve and enhance Ireland’s estuary and coastal resource and will build capacity amongst stakeholders to participate in the development and monitoring of estuary and coastal plans. 

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