The variability and complexity of our biophysical environment – soils, subsoils, bedrock, ecosystems and weather – makes assessing and determining water movement in the Irish landscape both interesting and demanding. Add to this situation the heterogeneity of human activities locally and regionally, whether in towns or in rural areas, then the challenge of achieving effective water resources and related ecosystem management is apparent.
The key to successful protection and management of our water resources is understanding the situation in catchments and then basing the actions/measures to protect water quality, where it is satisfactory, or improve/restore, where it is unsatisfactory, on this understanding.
Catchment science is the study of the dynamic interactions between the physical catchment landscape, the ecosystems that sit within that landscape, and the human activities that can cause impacts to ecosystems in that landscape (Deakin, 2017). These three elements are all linked within the source-pathway-receptor (SPR) framework, which is illustrated in the diagram below. Therefore, catchment science is critical to providing the understanding mentioned above.
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