The regional stakeholders met in Cork on the 21st of May 2019 to discuss potential best practice examples within the region that may be applicable to the project.  This includes development of potential examples of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES).  

The 2nd RSG meeting was held on Tuesday 21st May from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at the Business Growth Hub, County Hall campus in Cork. The RSG members were selected on the basis of identified relevant representative stakeholders/bodies who could provide best practice/policy input into the project. 

A quadruple helix approach was adopted incorporating representatives from University College Cork (UCC), different departments from Cork County Council (CCC), The Forestry Service, The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and LAWPRO. Some stakeholder group members approached were not available to attend including representatives from the Southern Regional Assembly, Youghal Socio Economic Development Group, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Teagasc, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).  

The main topics discussed included an overview of the Delta Lady Project background/objectives/next steps, the best practice examples identified to date and next focus of the project on best practice examples of Payment for Ecosystem Services within the RegionGroup discussion of the best practice examples identified to date and other potential examples was encouraged at the meeting as part of shared learning experiences and inter-personal learning. Each of the stakeholders provided examples of grant payments for ecosystem services. The representative from LAWPRO highlighted the River Allow Catchment Group as a good best practice example of an agri-environmental scheme with a strong focus on overall water quality improvements within the Catchment. The stakeholder from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine highlighted some Departmental measures towards encouraging environmental improvements in farming practices. CCC’s representative from the Environment section referred to a recent farm walk in Lissarda on dairy sustainability, soil fertility and energy saving commenting that there appears to be huge interest among the faming community in engaging further with the environmental aspect of farming. The Forestry Service representative provided a presentation to the group on the benefits of forestry and existing grant payments available for afforestation

An observation from group discussions is that there is a need for a Community Based focus with regard to implementation of  Payment for Ecosystem Services measures. In terms of policy context the current policy vacuum at national and local levels of ecosystem services (ESS) was identified. The inclusion of a specific policy objective in the Draft Regional Economic and Spatial Strategies (RSES) currently on public display was highlighted as an excellent platform for policy delivery at a regional level. It will also help to facilitate the recognition of ESS at a local level having regard to the hierarchical planning policy structure in Ireland between national – regional – local levels. 

The main conclusion points reached from the meeting related to: - developing the identified best practice examples to date and linking them to improvements in water quality and economic development; - working with the stakeholder group members on examples of PES within the Region; - further development and investigation of the following:  River Allow Catchment Group EIP; PES initiatives within the region; grant payment schemes available for afforestation; scoping or feasibility of development of eco-tourism sites in Youghal.

The main tasks that the stakeholders have been advised to consider in advance of the next RSG meeting are examples of Payments for Ecosystem Services within the region,

how their particular area of expertise and/or best practice example feeds into the overall project objectives in addition to any other relevant contacts/examples that should be considered. The next meeting is provisionally planned for Q4 2019 with contact to be made with RSG members in advance of same.