Ireland sets out first environmental indicators

Trends show economic growth presents difficulties for river pollution, waste, climate change

Ireland's first set of environmental indicators show that the country's high rate of economic growth is putting its environment under "increasing threat", the environmental protection agency said yesterday. In a discussion document launched by envronment minister Dan Wallace, the agency provides data for ten indicators in each of five categories over a ten-year period. Also highlighted is a shortlist of twelve headline indicators singled out for regular monitoring to provide a "snapshot" view of environmental progress over time. The resulting trends show that Ireland faces its greatest challenge in controlling river pollution, where increasing eutrophication has outstripped economic growth over the last decade (ENDS Daily 20 May). The country also has a large waste management problem, the agency says, with an increase in household and commercial arisings of 62% over the 11 years to 1995, and faces challenges in curbing transport growth and greenhouse gas emissions. The indicators are grouped into categories measuring "driving forces" such as population growth; "pressures" such as gaseous emissions; "states" such as nitrate levels in rivers; "impacts" such as the number of fish kills; and "responses" such recycling rates. The headline indicators focus on a number of key issues for national environmental protection such as the levels of phosphorus in soil (ENDS Daily 1 December 1997). The agency believes Ireland is among the first countries to publish indicators of this kind, which will eventually contribute to wider sustainable development indicators.

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