IFI Planning Watercourses Urban Environment Guidance 3

Climate adaptation

How we are preparing for possible disruptions caused by climate change.

The challenge of adapting to change

Despite all our activities and actions to help mitigate the impacts of climate disruption, we also have to consider how we are going to adapt to climate change. We know that disruption will increase in the coming decades (that climate change is already "locked-in" based on global emissions to date), and that this will result in significant impacts which will require adaptation responses.

Climate change will have diverse and wide-ranging impacts on Ireland, including managed and natural ecosystems, water resources, agriculture and food security, human health, and coastal infrastructures and zones. The 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act requires the National Adaptation Framework to set the strategy to reduce the vulnerability of Ireland to the negative effects of climate change, and to benefit from any positive effects that may occur.

The first statutory National Adaptation Framework was published in early 2018. This aims to:

  • Provide the policy context for a strategic adaptation response, at all levels, to climate change.
  • Integrate adaptation considerations into all relevant policy areas.
  • Promote dialogue and understanding of adaptation issues.
  • Identify sectors for adaptation actions and lay out a high level vision for how these sectoral adaptation plans and local/regional adaptation strategies should be prepared, and the principles they should cover.
  • Commit to actions to support and coordinate the adaptation process, including research and governance.

We are committed to learning from experience, as climate and other environmental impacts change over time

Building resilience to the current and expected impacts of climate disruption through adaptation will be challenging. It is crucial, however, to cope with threats and environmental risk, and to find innovative ways to exploit opportunities where they exist. In doing so, we can ensure resilience in the future delivery of our remit.

Inland Fisheries Ireland seeks to integrate and contribute to further development and implementation of the National Adaptation Framework where possible. Examples of Climate Adaptation measures that we have already implemented include:

Sustainable development and climate adaptation

Local authorities and other agencies are obliged, under legislation, to notify and engage Inland Fisheries Ireland on certain planning matters where an impact on the fisheries resource is possible. These agencies also require stakeholders (under their statutory powers) to consult with us, and subsequently submit proof of compliance with our requirements as a component of the national formal planning system.

We seek at all times to integrate climate adaptation into these plans and programmes. Infrastructural elements impacting on surface waters (e.g. schemes such as wastewater/water treatment plants, water abstractions for potable supply, flood relief schemes, roads projects, housing, commercial waterside development) are evaluated and assessed from a fisheries legislative perspective.

From design through to construction, our environmental staff are involved in close liaison with the relevant parties (often public agencies and bodies), their design teams and the various contractors "on the ground" to ensure habitat protection, control of pollution, climate adaptation and conservation of the fisheries resource.

Extreme Flow Response guidance

We have developed a series of recommended actions for implementation during periods of extreme flow (both drought and flood events). This adaptation response will ensure a constant state of organisational readiness and will support robust decision-making during extreme flow events, which are likely to increase in frequency over time.

Planning for watercourses in the urban environment

Rivers, lakes and streams are an integral part of our environment and, if managed appropriately, can significantly improve the quality of life for people living in urban areas. Our guideline document Planning for Watercourses in the Urban Environment outlines an integrated watercourse protection strategy, developed by us in consultation with a wide range of experts in the area.

The strategy adopts a simple four-step approach to watercourse protection planning. Implementation of this strategy should not only protect watercourses and their associated riparian zones in urban areas, but also provide other benefits important for the well-being of people living nearby. This guidance document aims to support planning processes which address predicted Climate Change impacts associated with water (Climate Change Adaptation) and encourages greater CO2 sequestration along watercourses (Climate Change Mitigation).

Our guidance for climate adaptation - rivers in urban settings

CEO for Inland Fisheries Ireland, Francis O’Donnell, has said that "Nature-based catchment management and a holistic approach to addressing our biodiversity and climate challenges are crucial for sustainable development. These guidelines approach the issue of planning for watercourses in urban environments from a multi-stakeholder perspective and seek to maximise the significant co-benefits that will arise from adoption of a comprehensive, all-inclusive strategy.

These benefits range from better water quality and more resilient and natural ecosystems to the well-established positive effects of nature and green areas for community well-being, recreation, health and recovery from serious illness and even reduced levels of anti-social behaviour. We hope these guidelines will be a useful resource for all of Irish society."

We have introduced a series of climate-related scientific research papers and operational guidance materials. You can view our Research and Operations Division guidance and activities below.