Exemplar 1. Urban-rural fringe of the Greater Dublin Region


Urban-rural fringe of the Greater Dublin Region  

UCD’s School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy is carrying out research to assess different stakeholders’ perceptions of the values they attach to the coastal environment or coastal ‘cultural ecosystem services’ (CES[1]) across 88km of coastline in Fingal in north Dublin, Ireland. Cultural Services provide tangible and intangible benefits to people when they interact with nature. Tangible benefits are more visible and are found in the economic and experiential aspects of human-nature interactions e.g. the production and revenue value of fishing or tourism. Intangible benefits on the other hand are found more in the ‘internal connections’ of the human-nature interaction. These benefits are more intuitive, mental, physical, psychological and social. They include health and wellbeing, inspiration, social and community connections, aesthetics, sense of place and place identity and artistic expression of nature and interpreting wildlife and habitats. Often in decision making it is the less tangible CES benefits are overlooked and not accounted for when considering the overall value of a particular environmental service or land use. It is the intention of the Dublin Exemplar to research the expression of these CES values in a coastal setting and to consider the contribution of ES approaches to consultation within the land use planning arena.



There are several aims of the Dublin exemplar. Firstly, we intend to test ecosystem services approaches to valuation as a model for public consultation in the land use planning arena. Secondly, we shall be assessing social learning about ES amongst stakeholder groups to establish whether  the concepts of ecosystem services are understood sufficiently to be applied in a practical sense. Thirdly, we wish to establish whether stakeholders can articulate their CES values through the mapping of locations of different cultural values and link them to the underlying ES in the coastal setting. Furthermore, we will assess whether stakeholders find the process of articulating CES beneficial and in what way. Finally, we will assess how or if CES valuation or expression of values can contribute new knowledge to planning consultation processes and if so, where might it best be placed or used in this discipline



The stakeholders involved in the research include ecosystem users and beneficiaries of the Fingal coastline. These include Residents’ Associations, local environmental groups, sailing, angling, community groups, representatives of the local council, representatives of local coastal villages, and heritage groups.

To date UCD has executed two stakeholder research Focus Group Workshops: the first in October 2014 and the second in April 2015. At the first workshop stakeholders were introduced to the concept of Ecosystem Services and Cultural Values. The workshop included a participatory mapping and CES valuation exercise to allow stakeholder participants to locate CES values in the Fingal coastal setting and to individually rank the relative importance of values. The workshop demonstrated that although it was difficult at first for stakeholders to grasp the concept of ecosystem services, they were fully able to engage in the process of representing and also articulating their CES values through a participatory mapping exercise. It was also evident that stakeholders rank some values more highly than others and indicate a strong sense of stewardship over the coastline.  The second workshop (April 2015) provided the opportunity for a number of stakeholders from the first workshop to join together with a new group to delve more deeply into the meaning of expression of CES values. This workshop also introduced a reframing of the conceptualization of ES (as the flow of benefits of nature to people) through the ‘Maslow Hierarchy of Needs’ (1943) model.