We are a group of organisations and individuals from academia and public, private and NGO sectors interested in the development and application of the natural capital agenda in Ireland. We are structured as a non-profit Company Limited by Guarantee, governed by a Board, led by a Steering Committee and administered by a Secretariat.
Our mission is to value, protect and restore Ireland’s natural capital and ecosystem services. We will do this by supporting the adoption of natural capital concepts in public policy and corporate strategy, promoting informed public and private sector decision-making, and assisting in the establishment of a national natural capital accounting standard.
Our vision is for an Ireland in which natural capital and ecosystem goods and services are valued, protected and restored.
See a logo with a different acorn on it, and reference to the Irish Forum on Natural Capital?
That's still us! We rebranded to Natural Capital Ireland in 2021.
Our Board of Directors
Chair of the Board: Fiona Ross
Public and private sector Chair and Non-Executive Director
Fiona is an exceptionally experienced public and private sector Chair and Non-Executive Director. She was appointed by the Government to chair Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), Ireland’s public transport provider, to the Board of the HSE Ireland's public health service, and in August 2021, was appointed to Chair the National Pediatric Hospital Development Board. An advisor to the Mayor at Bristol City Council, Fiona has Central Bank of Ireland authorisation (UCIT and MIFID) and serves as a non-executive director at JK Funds, Tilney Smith & Williamson Europe (where she chairs the Audit and Risk committee) and SphereInvest. In the UK, Fiona was appointed a Non-Executive Director at the Scottish government and by the UK Government to serve on the board of Network Rail. Fiona is committed to sustainability, chairs the CIÉ Group’s sustainability committee and is a member of the Scottish Government and Network Rail Sustainability Subcommittee.
Director: Kate Hotten
Independent Non-Executive Director
Kate helps companies design sustainable, effective controls to protect themselves and their customers from financial crime risk. She previously built and led Stripe's global anti-financial crime programme and held several regulator-approved roles in Ireland, the UK, Australia and more. She’s now training as a Landscape Architect with a focus on peatlands, quarries and other extractive landscapes and also runs the VSS project for sustainable architects.
Director: Alan Costello
Director at Resolve Partners
Alan is a strategy and innovation specialist, focusing on supporting startups to scale globally and corporates to develop their innovation through startup-style processes. Deeply involved in the venture capital sector, including as a Venture Investment Leader with NDRC, Alan is currently Director at Resolve Partners. He has a strong background in sustainability and cleantech including energy generation, water utility and domestic energy optimisation. Alan has worked with national and international agencies for research and enterprise across >20 countries after a corporate career in life sciences.
Director: Darragh Gaffney
Research & Innovation Services Manager, IRDG
Darragh works for the Industry Research & Development Group (IRDG), an innovation network in Ireland. Darragh spends a considerable amount of his time with members on a 1-to-1 basis, working through needs and interests across diverse industry sectors, supporting individual members to achieve their Research & Innovation goals. Darragh also heads up IRDG’s sustainability-focussed activities, including a Sustainability Leaders Group and practical implementation workshops. Darragh has many years’ experience in R&D activities, previously acting in R&D Manager and Consultancy roles, where he successfully implemented circular bioeconomy-based business models as well as securing significant financial support from Horizon 2020.
Company Secretary: Pat Costello
Former CEO, Chartered Accountants Ireland
Pat is a former CEO of Chartered Accountants Ireland and Accounting Technicians Ireland and Chairman of Chartered Accountants Worldwide which represents over 700,000 Chartered Accountants around the world. He is a former CEO of the Irish Taxation Institute, a Board Member of the Irish Policing Authority and a member of the GAA Audit Committee. Pat spent 20 years in the Irish Defence Forces and served with the United Nations as an Irish Army Officer in the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.
Our Secretariat & Research Team
Iseult manages the implementation of Natural Capital Ireland's strategy and operations. She spent two years as an active member and took over as Executive Coordinator in May 2021. She currently works with the sustainability team at Trinity College from where she holds a Masters in Sustainable Development and a BA in Economics and Political Science. Before becoming a sustainability professional, Iseult worked in the creative sector in Ireland and Australia across the music, theatre and fashion industries.
Communications Executive for Natural Capital Ireland since 2019, Fiona facilitates events provides administrative support and conducts media outreach. An experienced media professional, she has written and sub-edited for several national newspapers and websites, including RTE.ie, providing content for flagship promotional campaigns including Ireland’s Ancient East. She has also worked in the heritage sector and earned a BA in History and Greek & Roman Civilisations from University College Dublin. Fiona also leads on communications for a number of NCI-facilitated projects including INCASE, applying natural capital accounting in Irish catchments for the first time, and Business For Biodiversity Ireland, a Government-backed hub to help the private sector take action for nature.
Dr Emer Ní Dhúill
Emer is an ecologist with a PhD on the conservation of a rare native Irish plant species with experience in plant conservation, monitoring and surveying. She is also a qualified horticulturalist. She has worked on projects with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Trinity College Dublin, National Botanic Gardens and Fingal County Council on conservation, biodiversity and invasive species. As an NCI Researcher, Emer has developed and delivered numerous workshops and webinars on biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions. She also facilitates Continuing Professional Development workshops for primary school teachers as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Primary Science and Maths Programme.
Dr Noreen Brennan
Noreen is an environmental economist with a special interest in community engagement in
renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. She has worked as a researcher on projects related to public preferences for wind energy, stakeholder engagement in peatland restoration, the impact of farmer interaction with education programmes on farm outputs and assessing bioenergy analysis models. She has previously been employed in research positions with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Teagasc as well as in the transportation industry producing business analytics and forecasts. She also currently works as a post-doctoral researcher in NUI Galway.
Dr Sarah Zimmermann
Sarah is an environmental researcher with a particular interest in biodiversity policy, conservation and community-led projects. She completed a PhD and Diploma in Statistics in Trinity College Dublin and worked for five years as a researcher on an inter-disciplinary project on groundwater-dependent wetlands. She has also completed wetland research projects for the Environmental Protection Agency and National Parks & Wildlife Services as a freelance researcher. Sarah volunteers with Balbriggan Tidy Towns on biodiversity projects and is a member of the Climate, Environment and Water Linkage Group of the Fingal Public Participation Network and the Balbriggan Sustainable Energy Community.
Our Steering Committee
Dr Noreen Byrne, Co-director MSc Sustainable Development, Agrifood & Co-operatives, University College Cork
Through her work and research at the Centre for Co-operative Studies, UCC, Noreen has gained a keen interest in the role of landscape and place as a communications, educational and practical medium for transitioning to a sustainable and regenerative society. Her primary motivation in joining NCI's committee is to increase dialogue on how the Irish natural capital project INCASE and the SEEA method could be used to develop the regenerative-enabling capability of organisations and communities, where both see themselves as a living system that is part of nature, not just working for nature. She believes tregenerative-enabling capability indicators integrated with local context (measured through these methodologies) could provide a holistic, regenerative framework.
Charlie Coakley, Environmental Scientist, Irish Water
Charlie is an environmental scientist with over twenty years' experience in a number of areas including biodiversity, energy efficiency and water management. He has led his teams to win numerous awards including SEAI, Bord Bia and IBEC accolades. Charlie hopes to help drive a natural capital approach, both nationally, and through leading by example within Irish Water, which has a large portfolio of assets nationwide and can make a significant contribution to the natural capital approach.
Ashling Cronin, COO & Ecologist, Scott Cawley Ltd
Ashling has over 14 years of experience in ecological/environmental assessment and environmental management across both the private and public sector. She has a skillset in business and people management, development and leadership. She also has a keen interest in environmental law and policy, and how this shapes the work of the practitioners as well as the future for our society. She is a subject matter expert in ecology, now managing the operational side of a company to develop and execute strategies to ensure that company is working towards its vision. This involves supporting a team of ecologists to deliver a nature--positive agenda in a ‘boots on the ground’ capacity. Her aim is to help drive and deliver the natural capital agenda at a strategic and national level.
Geraldine Ann Cusack, Sustainability & Climate Action Officer, Fáilte Ireland
Fellow and chartered engineer and a chartered water and environmental manager with a BSc Geology (engineering), MSc Energy (economics & environmental legislation), Geraldine has done international environmental consulting project work (geological engineering, mineral resources, environmental hydrogeology, energy management) in Ireland, the US, UK, Azerbaijan & Chile. She has worked as a sustainability & climate action practitioner in public (local authorities) & private (manufacturing) sectors, helping to implement innovative circular economy principles within business cultures and strategies. A member of the Royal Irish Academy's Climate Change & Environmental Sciences Committee (2014-2022), and Future Earth Ireland Committee (2015-present), she is keen to work with like-minded people and organisations to help prove and demonstrate viable solutions, so that throughout our economic endeavours, our ecosystems and natural environments can be viewed through a lens of valuation, protection, regeneration.
Grainne Devine, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)
Grainne sat on the NCI steering committee from 2018-2020, and from 2019-2022, she project-managed the BIM Natural Capital Project. This was developed in two phases, to first understand and then test the application of natural capital accounting and multiple capitals accounting for the seafood sector in Ireland. Grainne sees natural and multiple capital approaches as a key factor in changing the narrative on how we understand and value our resources, and the services that they deliver. She believes the consistent integration of this approach into planning and decision making has the potential to deliver truly sustainable solutions for the environment and society.
Dr Catherine Farrell, Ecologist, Incase Project & Life on Machair
Catherine has recently moved to lead the new LIFE on Machair project, working with Ireland's rare and unique species-rich coastal grassland habitats, after leading our EPA-funded INCASE natural capital accounting project since its inception in 2019. Before this, she was the Senior Ecologist with Bord na Mona, where she worked to promote and develop peatland restoration and rehabilitation, as well as creation of other wetland and woodland habitats on industrial cutaway peatland.
Jennifer Fulton, Chief Executive Officer, Ulster Wildlife
Leading Ulster Wildlife since 2012, Jennifer has practical case study opportunities and experience of strategic planning, project development and change management qualification, with policy development and influencing skills. Having begun her career in the delivery of agri-environment schemes and associated training programmes in the Department of Agriculture, she has also worked as a consultant on EU interstate projects, managed a range of voluntary bodies and consulted on aspects of the reform of local government for three district councils. She has an interest and involvement in natural capital as a key decision-making tool and to demonstrate the value of nature and ecosystem services, including evaluation of impact of restoration work as an eNGO.
Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn, University College Dublin
Mary's research is focused on the assessment of land-use and other anthropogenic activities on the hydrochemical and ecological quality of freshwaters. She has completed studies on the aquatic habitats of agricultural, urban and forested catchments. Her research on forest-water interactions spans three decades and a recently completed project (HYDROFOR) investigated pollutant inputs and impacts from forestry operations through the life cycle of the forest. Recent grants are funding multi-institute research on silt flux in Irish rivers, impact on rivers of cattle access and on freshwater ecosystem services. Her research has yielded over 130 peer-reviewed publications and numerous reports. She has recently begun working on the ForES project which applies the natural capital approach to developing tools for sustainable forestry.
Conor Kretsch, Environmental Biologist & Cohab Initiative founder
Conor is an environmental biologist specialising in the relationships between the environment and human health and well-being. He has worked as a researcher, consultant and educator in environment and sustainability, with over 20 years’ experience as an advisor to business, industry, governments, and civil society groups in Ireland and worldwide. As founding director of the Cohab Initiative, (Co-operation on health and biodiversity), he has worked closely with agencies of the UN, EU and other inter- and non-governmental organisations, building and communicating the evidence base for linkages between nature and health, translating the evidence into policy, and identifying opportunities for integrating natural capital into health and social development strategies, and vice versa. Conor has contributed to several national and global reviews of ecosystem services and the importance of natural capital to human well-being, including for NPWS, EC, IPBES and the WHO-CBD joint work programme on biodiversity and health.
Deirdre Lynn, Scientific Officer, National Parks & Wildlife
Scientific Officer at the National Parks and Wildlife Service,Deirdre has management responsibility for Raised bogs, Fens, Uplands, Woodlands, Monitoring and Data Management. She is also involved in policy formulation and review such as the National Biodiversity Action Plan and the Biodiversity Sectoral Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and the Sustainable Development Goals. She is the national focal point for the Scientific Subsidiary body of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and has also been involved in the Irish delegation for the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. She also initiated steps towards the new Business For Biodiversity Ireland platform to ensure that business comprehends their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity and manage and prevent biodiversity-related risks, while harnessing new opportunities.
Dr Kirstie McAdoo, Airfield Estate
Kirstie has strong academic and working knowledge of agricultural systems and
their role within climate change in both academia and real world. She has
teaching experience and curriculum creation at second level, as well as
research into early years to third level in teaching methodologies. She is also
skilled in business strategy and organisational development with qualifications in leadership. She has carried out research into practical applications for food waste reductions in the home. Kirstie wants to see real change in academia and business around reducing and managing the impact of climate change through the recognition of nature as natural capital. Through experience in academia, education and business, she can see how integrated sustainable food systems can combine several industries to work together for positive change.
Dr Martha O'Hagan, Trinity College Dublin
Martha is engaged in teaching and research in the area of Sustainable Finance. Having previously worked in banking, she is deeply invested in exploring the role that the financial sector can play in redirecting capital flows towards sustainable economic activity, providing incentives that incorporate the social and environmental value of economic activity and ensuring that externalities are reflected in the true value of any asset. She is interested in how, by developing natural capital accounting, we can work towards correctly valuing our natural assets in Ireland in order to protect those assets, and incorporate that value into the financial sector.
Dr Jimmy O'Keeffe, Dublin City University
Jimmy is a hydrologist and lecturer at DCU co-developing a course in Climate
and Environmental Sustainability. He has over 12 years’ experience working on natural capital and ecosystem services in Ireland, UK and South Asia, with farmers, developers, regulatory authorities and governments. He recently helped organise Ireland's Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. He uses interdisciplinary approaches, particularly stakeholder engagement and systems modelling, to improve our understanding of the links and feedbacks between humans and the natural environment. As a steering committee member, Jimmy aims to support initiatives to further integrate natural capital approaches across different communities and stakeholder groups, particularly farmers, developers and students. Expanding natural capital and ecosystem services from the academic-policy sphere to a more familiar, accessible and useful resource will be key to societal and natural environment sustainability.
Tadhg O'Mahony, Environmental Protection Agency
Tadhg graduated in Plant Science from University College Cork in 1984. He worked with NPWS on national surveys in 1984/85. Following a spell in outdoor education including field studies, Tadhg pursued postgraduate studies in Environmental Technology specialising in Water Management at Imperial College. He subsequently spent 10 years in environmental consultancy in the UK and Ireland in the areas of EIA and EcIA. Tadhg joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 1997 and, since 2003, has headed up the Strategic Environmental Assessment Unit in the Office of Evidence and Assessment. Advocating the integration of environmental considerations in sectoral plans, programmes and strategies, he is also part of the team involved in the production of the EPA’s State of Environment Report. A visiting lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and NUIG post graduate courses, Tadhg has a particular interest in freshwater & marine ecology, and is a keen photographer and avid collector and reader of natural history publications.
Niall Ryan, Agricultural Inspector, DAFM
Niall joined the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2001 after eight years working in both the private and public sectors. He was assigned to the Agricultural Environment and Structures Division in Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford, initially working in the Organic Unit for seven years and then working on various Agri-Environmental Schemes: REPS, AEOS and GLAS. He was also involved in the design of GLAS. In November 2016, he moved to Crop Evaluation & Certification Division based at Backweston Farm, Celbridge, Co Kildare where he was responsible for the implementation of the National Crop Evaluation Programme for grasses and clovers as well as Plant Breeders Rights duties. In March 2019, he moved to the Nitrates and Biodiversity Division in Johnstown Castle and his main responsibilities focus on biodiversity policy, soils and EIA (agriculture) regulations.
Dr Noeleen Smyth, University College Dublin
Noeleen is an Assistant Professor in Conservation & Environmental Horticulture at
UCD. She is a Botanist and Chartered Horticulturalist, with qualifications from
Teagasc (College of Amenity Horticulture, Glasnevin), the Royal Horticultural Society (UK) and Trinity College Dublin. She obtained her PhD from TCD on Forest Restoration & Invasive species control in the South Pacific. She has held various conservation policy and environmental roles in the UK & Ireland and worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as Head of the UK CITES Scientific Authority. She was recently elected as EU representative on the International CITES Plants Committee. She acts as CITES Scientific Authority for Ireland and a member and former chair of the EU Scientific Review Group (EU SRG) whose mission is to ensure global sustainable trade in wild rare species. She previously a worked as a conservation botanist with the OPW at the National Botanic Gardens and contributed to the OPW Biodiversity plan and working group.
Prof Jane Stout, Trinity College Dublin
Co-founder and former Chair of the Board of Directors for NCI, Jane is an eminent ecologist and researches the links between biodiversity and ecosystem
functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services, which ultimately
influence human livelihoods and well-being. She leads the first research project in Ireland to apply the natural capital approach at catchment scale, INCASE,
and currently leads three other research projects building on this in different
sectors (dairy, forestry, wind energy). Jane recently took on a new role as Vice
President for Biodiversity & Climate Action at Trinity College Dublin and so
has the opportunity to embed it in their operations too. In her role at NCI, she hopes to stay at the forefront of the development of the natural capital approach in Irish policy and practice.
Paddy Woodworth, Journalist & Author
A former Irish Times staff journalist, Paddy writes regularly on environmental issues. Having spent 20 years sub-editing and section editing national newspapers and academic articles, he now also drafts and edits responses to government and local authority policy consultations for NCI's Policy Working Group. He has PR and management experience in the cultural sector, and is author of 'Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century' (Chicago 2013), on ecological restoration, including the restoration of natural capital as a key conservation strategy. As a founding member of NCI, and long-term Steering Committee member, Paddy believes that the natural capital approach is vital in making the values of nature and biodiversity to our society much more visible to the public and policymakers.
Our Steering Committee members operate under our Terms of Reference, which outlines roles & responsibilities.
Download our Strategic Report for 2021-2023 to check out our key strategic themes, objectives and plans.
Download our Annual Reports and members-only minutes from our Annual General Meeting.
Natural Capital Ireland incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee in 2019 as part of our goal to build upon our governance framework. Reports are available from this point on.
Natural Capital Ireland is currently supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Check out our Annual Reports above for more specifics.
In the past, we have received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.
We are grateful to all our funders who have enabled us to grow from a four-person initiative in 2014 to a nationwide network today. We continue to work closely with all those who support the natural capital agenda in Ireland.