Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments (INCASE) Interim Report
This interim report, published today by the EPA, reviews the rationale and direction of the INCASE project and reflects the work completed by the project team from March 2019-Februrary 2020.
The EPA State of the Environment Report (2016) highlighted the need to integrate natural capital accounting (NCA) into Ireland’s measures of prosperity so that we economic performance could be tracked alongside personal health and well-being and the health of the natural environment (biodiversity, water quality, soils).
Natural Capital Accounting applies financial accounting methodologies to the natural environment so that the stock and quality of nature and the goods and services it provides are accounted for in national measures of prosperity. These goods and services include the basic requirements of daily living – food, water, clean air, etc. Natural Capital Accounting sometimes called ‘green accounting’ enables the accounting of flows, including losses and gains to the environment, degradation and depreciation of natural resources.
NCA can be used to identify trends in the quality of the environment, inform trade-offs, identify co-benefits and establish critical links between natural and other capitals (such as built and social capital) as well as identify knowledge gaps. NCA combined with other appropriate tools, will imp-rove our knowledge, understanding and capacity to address the dominant pressures and their impacts – climate change, growth in human population, continued degradation of nature – on Ireland’s environment.
The INCASE project plans to pilot the development of a suite of relevant natural capital accounts at the catchment scale to provide a comprehensive view of the stocks of natural capital assets and the flows of services within each catchment. How these stocks and flows relate to society will also be investigated. Working at the catchment level, INCASE will inform, through a process of learning by doing, how best to develop catchment natural capital accounts, with a view to providing guidance on how to scale this up to the national level.