Cork County Council (CCC) organized a workshop with University College Cork (UCC) on 21st of October 2020, Online. From six attendees of the meeting, 4 were from UCC and 2 participants from CCC. The main aim of the meeting was to share progress on the Delta Lady work so far in the Blackwater Catchment in terms of assessing ecosystems services and developing an action plan to embed ecosystem services into regional policy. The attendees were selected to further these aims.
One representative of UCC has extensive experience in regional policy implementation and development. Another one is conducting a parallel research project focused on resilience in the Youghal Area. The other participants have been responsible for implementation of the Delta Lady project in their respective organizations.
CCC gave an overview presentation on the Delta Lady project, with the background on environmental decline, increased need to rebalance human interaction with the environment and growing importance given to environmental policies e.g. the Green Deal underpinning the majority of future EU programmes and funding.
Group Discussion was held emphasizing that the project buy-in in Cork is a really positive development. But there is a general lack of awareness of the importance of environmental issues. UCC reiterated the ongoing challenge of quantifying and valuing ecosystem services referring to the model provided as part of the project. A study on Integrating Ecosystem Services and Policy and a site assessment model in Youghal undertaken by Master student from the University of Twente in collaboration with UCC, was presented. Based on this study an academic paper was prepared by UCC, and published in a scientific journal Sustainability. The paper describes a novel method to incorporate ecosystem services into policy. A public survey was developed for the semi-quantitative assessment of ecosystem services and applied to prioritize potential development in three sites: the Slob Bank, Claycastle and Ballyvergan Marsh. Suggestion made were that in addition to the proposed Youghal Pollinator Plan an Ecosystem Services Plan in plain, accessible language may be useful . Description was provided of each of the 3 proposed development sites. Ballyvergan Marsh – accessibility is an issue (43% unaware vs 18/19% on the other sites). Forthcoming Midleton to Youghal Greenway may enhance appreciation of ES i.e. role of complimentary capital as an enabler (e.g. MY Greenway) in impacting ecosystem services awareness, opportunity to establish ecosystem services as a core concept in the next CCDP (Cork County Development Plan). Most importance was placed on cultural & regulating services with pollination ranked as most important in the public survey. Assumptions applied to results analysis re: use and scale.