Cookie Policy

We use cookies to make our website effective and useful for you. To continue, please accept the use of cookies.

I accept

How we use cookies

Northern Ireland Environment Link Logo





Nov 2017 right left


Storytelling by the Fire

Friday 3rd November
Florence Court
Adult £15

Autumn Garden Walk

Saturday 4th November
Mount Stewart
Adult £10, Child £5

Jo’s Walks — The building of Murlough: Part 1

Saturday 4th November
Murlough NNR, Keel Point, Dundrum entrance
No Charge, Donations Welcome


Changing Landscapes: Protecting the environment in a new Europe

Monday 6th November
Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh


BTO NI Conference

Saturday 11th November
Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
see above

Path Maintenance & Scrub Control

Sunday 12th November
Bog Meadows Nature Reserve Belfast


Innovative Learning using GIS, ICT and Fieldwork

Saturday 18th November
Tollymore Field Studies Centre
£45 including lunch

Have a go: Dry Stone Walling

Saturday 18th November
Strangford Lough
No Charge, Donations Welcome

Creative Writing Workshop

Saturday 18th November
Mount Stewart

Family Festive Film Fun

Saturday 18th November
Rowallane Garden
Normal Admission, Members Free


NIEA Conference on Water Framework Directive – Future Partnerships

Saturday 25th November
College of Agriculture Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Greenmount Campus, 45 Tirgracy Road, Antrim BT41 4PS


Saturday 25th November
Castle Ward
Normal Admission, Members Free

Hedge Maintenance

Sunday 26th November
Gilford Castle, Gilford Co Armagh

World Forum on Natural Capital 2017

Monday 27th November
Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh
See website for details

Scrub Clearance & Conserving the Cryptic Wood White Butterfly

Monday 27th November
Lough Neagh Discovery Centre


Action Renewables Energy Association – Hydrogen Economy Seminar

Wednesday 29th November
The Doyen, 829 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7GY
See website for details


Ecosystem services

The natural world and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to human well–being and economic prosperity. These ecosystems are the ultimate source of all of our energy, resources and products, as well as disposing of all our waste. We depend upon them to produce our food, regulate our water and climate and provide a sense of cultural identity.

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are the benefits that flow to society from the environment. Though they are traditionally seen as ‘free’, if the same services were delivered by man–made infrastructure they would be extremely costly to the public purse. Ecosystem services make human life possible, and enhance quality of life in invaluable ways. They are commonly grouped into 4 categories:

  • Provisioning: the products obtained from ecosystems such as food, fibre and fresh water;
  • Regulating: the benefits obtained from ecosystem processes such as pollination and control of the climate and water;
  • Cultural: the non–material benefits obtained from ecosystems; for example through spiritual or religious enrichment, cultural heritage, recreation and tourism or other aesthetic experience; and,
  • Supporting: ecosystem functions that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services, including soil formation and the cycling of nutrients and water.

If ecosystems are to support our communities and economy they need to be healthy, resilient and adaptable to change. Damage and degradation to our ecosystems is costly and impairs the ability of these systems to deliver the range of products and services upon which people rely.

The Northern Ireland National Ecosystem Assessment is part of a UK–wide project to assess the state of our ecosystems. It is the first analysis of Northern Ireland’s natural environment and the ecosystem services it provides and attempts to place a value on those services in economic, social and environmental terms. It also provides an introduction to the use of the ecosystem approach to inform policy development and management decisions.

Read More

UK woodland provided the equivalent of £5.6 billion of ecosystem services in 2014.

The value of a tree standing provides around 30 times more in recreational benefit and carbon and pollution removal, than it would provide if cut down for timber.

Japanese knotweed, which can spread by tiny fragments, grows rapidly enabling it to out–compete our native plants. It has also been shown, in some cases, to cause damage to properties, growing through tarmac and floors. This plant alone is costing millions of pounds each year to control.

The introduction of the grey squirrel in the 19th century is one of the best known examples of invasion by an invasive species. It has the ability to carry the squirrel pox virus which is lethal to our native red squirrels.

Floating pennywort, one of the most invasive aquatic plants, was first detected in Northern Ireland in 2002.

Invasive alien species are estimated to cost the Northern Irish economy an estimated £46.5million per year.

Even though peatlands only cover 3% of the global land area, they contain approximately 30% of all the carbon on land, equivalent to 75% of all atmospheric carbon and twice the carbon stock in the global forest biomass.

Coastal wetlands in the USA are estimated to currently provide US$23.2 billion per year in storm protection services alone.

Wise use of wetlands, including the conservation and restoration of hydrological functions, is essential in maintaining an infrastructure that can help meet a wide range of policy objectives.

Some wetland areas can play important roles in flood mitigation and thereby provide an important regulating ecosystem service, since approximately 2 billion people live in high flood risk zones.

64% of lakes in Northern Ireland are eutrophic or hypertrophic.

Functioning ecosystems contribute billions of pounds to the UK economy – however, ecosystem services are not given consideration in standard financial assessments.

Pollination of Northern Ireland’s apple trees, primarily by honey bees, is worth over £7 million per year; pollination of other fruits and vegetables is worth an additional £100,000 per year.

30% of eight broad aquatic and terrestrial habitat types have been assessed as being in decline.

The UK’s population is predicted to grow by nearly 10 million in the next 20 years; this is likely to increase pressures on ecosystem services in the future.

Approximately 2 billion people in the world live in high flood risk zones.

Coastal wetlands in the USA are estimated to currently provide US$23.2 billion per year in storm protection services alone.

Drainage for agriculture or forestry turns peatlands from a carbon sink to a carbon source. CO2 emissions from peatland drainage, fires and exploitation are approximately 3 billion tonnes per year, which equates to more than 10% of the global fossil fuel emissions.