About us

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC) is a group of organisations and individuals from academic, public, private and NGO sectors, interested in the development and application of the natural capital agenda in Ireland. It is structured as a non-profit Company Limited by Guarantee, governed by a Board, led by a Steering Committee and administered by a Secretariat. As of 2020, we have over 750 members.

Our vision is for an Ireland in which natural capital and ecosystem goods and services are valued, protected and restored.

Our mission is, through the collaboration and leadership of our diverse members, to help 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 Board of Directors

Chair of the Board: Prof Jane Stout

Professor in Botany, Trinity College Dublin

Jane is an ecologist whose research seeks to understand the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services, which ultimately influence human livelihoods and well-being. She chaired the inaugural Natural Capital Ireland committee which led to the formation of the Forum and is a former chairperson of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital.

Director: Kate Hotten

Managing Director, FINTRAIL

Kate helps companies build sustainable, effective controls to protect themselves and their customers from financial crime risk. Prior to FINTRAIL, she built and led Stripe’s anti-financial crime program and worked in anti-bribery and corruption. She’s now training as a Landscape Architect and shifting her focus towards  environmental risks.

Director: Alan Costello

Venture Investment Leader, NDRC

Alan is a strategy and innovation specialist, focussing on supporting startups to scale globally and corporates to develop their innovation through startup-style processes. Deeply involved in the venture capital sector, Alan is currently a Venture Investment Leader with NDRC. 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: Emer Moriarty Crowley


Emer is a corporate lawyer, a partner in Beauchamps and she has over thirty years experience specialising in corporate law, governance and business transformation. Emer was previously Deputy General Counsel at Aviva Ireland and she holds a Diploma in Corporate Governance from UCD’s Smurfit Business School.

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 Steering Committee

Chairperson: Andrea Carroll

Sustainability Programme Manager, EMEA-AWS

Andrea is an experienced professional, working on corporate sustainability issues with a particular interest in the green economy, biodiversity and sustainability policy. Andrea has a BA in Environmental Geography, MSc in Environmental Resource Management and is currently completing an MBA in International Business. She has a track record of working with governments, SMEs and corporations on a wide range of sustainability issues. She has significant voluntary experience working on climate change,  the green economy and animal welfare issues. Andrea is active on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Vice Chair: Bernadette Phelan

Head of Sustainability Services, Business in the Community Ireland

Bernadette is a senior executive in corporate responsibility & sustainability practice, and has worked on regional, national and EU programmes at leading non-profit organisations. Currently she sits on the Management Team of BITCI, the leading Irish network for responsible business. In BITCI, she leads and designs their corporate advisory services in responsible and sustainable business. Bernadette has a background in sustainable development having designed and managed a range of strategic economic and community initiatives. She holds a Masters in Science from UCD, a BA (mod) in Economics and Geography from TCD and an Advanced Certificate in Renewable Energy from LIT.

Ken Bradley

DAERA - Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of Northern Ireland 

Ken is responsible for policy and legislation relating to the natural environment in Northern Ireland within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (NI). Issues include Habitats and Birds Directives, Invasive Alien Species, Biodiversity, Access to the countryside and Natural Capital. Natural Capital is a fairly new concept in NI and Ken is tasked with developing policies and processes to demonstrate the practical benefits of the natural capital approach.

Dr Craig Bullock

Environmental Economist, Optimize and UCD

Craig has a PhD in environmental economics and works in both economic consultancy and applied research. He manages Optimize (www.optimize.ie), an environmental and economic consultancy, and also works as a research fellow at University College Dublin. His particular interest is the natural environment, an area in which he has been working in for 25 years. He counts birdwatching and hill walking among his interests.

Grainne Devine

Environmental Officer, Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Grainne has been working as an environmental officer with BIM since 2005. She helped to deliver the world’s first independently accredited Eco-standard for aquaculture in 2007 and has worked with Irish aquaculture businesses to achieve a variety of third party environmental and sustainability accreditations, from Organic certification in compliance with EU regulations, to Origin Green. She is a practitioner member of IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment), holds an MSc in Coastal Zone Management from Ulster University, a BSc (Honors) in Environmental Geoscience from Edinburgh University and a Diploma in EIA and SEA Management from UCD.

Dr Catherine Farrell

Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College Dublin

Catherine is a Postdoctoral Researcher working on the EPA-funded INCASE natural capital accounting project. 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.

Kate Flood

PhD Candidate, NUI Galway

Kate is a PhD Candidate and Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar 2018-2021, NUI Galway. She holds a BA in Communication Studies from DCU and completed an MSc in World Heritage Management & Conservation at UCD. Her master’s research examined the social and cultural history of Girley Bog Natural Heritage Area in County Meath. She volunteers with the Girley Bog Meitheal, a community-based group involved in the conservation and management of Girley Bog. She also sits on the Steering Group for the Community Wetlands Forum, a national network aimed at supporting community engagement with wetland and peatland conservation.

Deirdre Lynn,

Scientific Officer, National Parks and Wildlife Service

Deirdre Lynn is a Scientific Officer in the National Parks and Wildlife Service with 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 commissioned a Biodiversity Expenditure Review for Ireland and is working with academia to undertake a Financial Needs Assessment and develop a Resource Mobilisation Strategy. She is also working towards initiating a Business and Biodiversity Platform to ensure that business comprehends their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity; this Platform will help businesses and financial organisations manage and prevent biodiversity-related risks, while harnessing new business opportunities.

Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn

Associate Professor, University College Dublin

Mary's research is focussed 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.

Dr Dorothy Maxwell

Sustainability Professional

Dorothy has been working for 20 years in sustainability with businesses, government and NGOs in Ireland, EU, Asia Pacific and the USA. An alumnus of UCD and Imperial College London, she has a PhD in Environmental Science and MSc in Environmental Economics & Law. She started her career as an environmental professional with Accenture, Enterprise Ireland and became Ireland’s environmental policy representative to the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme. Moving overseas, she became Director of the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Sustainable Products and Green Economy programmes, Special Advisor to The Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit and founding Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition (2014-16). She has worked in business as Director of Sustainability with Walmart, House of Fraser and currently Brown Thomas Group. She is author of Valuing Natural Capital, Future Proofing Business and Finance.

Dr John O'Neill

Principal Officer - Climate Policy, Dept of Communications, Climate Action & the Environment

John has a doctorate from UCD in freshwater ecology and rehabilitation of natural habitats and previously worked in Local Government and Housing Policy. His current role covers extensive climate policy areas that span National, EU and International agendas. He previously worked within the Environment Advisory Unit of the Department where he provided specialist technical support and input on National, EU, and International Environmental policy, strategy and legislation.

Dr Aileen O'Sullivan

Environment Technical Lead, Coillte

Aileen qualified with a primary degree in Botany from Trinity College Dublin, and a PhD on “Historical and Contemporary Effects of Fire on the Native Woodland Vegetation of Killarney, S.W. Ireland”. She has worked for Coillte since 1999 as a Forest Ecologist and in various environmental roles. She led the development of BioClass, a new procedure for assessing biodiversity areas, which are sites of ecological value on the Coillte estate as well as developing Environmental Risk Assessment procedures for Coillte’s forestry operations, and selected ecologically valuable bog and woodland habitats for restoration in four LIFE projects.

Tom Popple

Senior Manager, Natural Capital Partners

Tom is a self-confessed climaholic - he lives and breathes the sustainable transition as an avid climate enthusiast. By day, he designs, develops and delivers sustainability leadership programmes for a portfolio of global blue-chip organisations, utilising results-based financing at Natural Capital Partners. By night, he leads the development of a new global platform to engage fellow climate enthusiasts from across the spectrum of private sector and civil society via The Climate Cocktail Club. 

Niall Ryan

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine - Nitrates Biodiversity and Engineering Division

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, working in the Organic Unit based in Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford. In 2008, he moved role within the Division and his duties included the delivery of controls on Agri-Environmental Schemes, e.g. REPS, AEOS and the current scheme GLAS. He was also involved in the design of GLAS. Following promotion, in November 2016, he moved to Crop Evaluation & Certification Division based at Backweston Farm, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. He was responsible for the herbage evaluation section which implements the National Crop Evaluation Programme for grasses and clovers as well as Plant Breeders Rights duties. In March 2019, he moved to the Nitrates Biodiversity and Engineering Division based in Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford and his main responsibilities focus on Biodiversity policy, soils and EIA (agriculture) Regulations.

Paddy Woodworth

Environmental Writer

Paddy is the author of 'Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century' (Chicago 2013); former Irish Times arts editor and asst. foreign desk editor, now regular contributor to Irish Times Environment Page; Research Associate at Missouri Botanical Garden, Adjunct Senior Lecturer at UCD School of Languages and Literatures; visiting fellowships at University of Iowa, Dartmouth College, and DePaul University, Chicago.

Our Secretariat

Orlaith Delargy

Executive Coordinator


Orlaith spent three years on the IFNC Steering Committee and took over as Executive Coordinator of the Forum in November 2019. She currently works as an environmental consultant in Dublin, after spending three years in London with international non-profit, CDP. She holds a Masters in Environmental Economics and Policy from Imperial College London and a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin. Previously, she worked on policy and public affairs at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.


Our Funders

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital is delighted to be supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, under the Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht, as well as the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.


In the past, we have received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment .


We are grateful to all our funders who have enabled us to grow from a four-person initiative in 2014, to a network of over 750 people nationwide today. We will continue to work closely with government departments to implement the natural capital agenda in Ireland.

Annual Report 2018-2019

Click the icon to download the IFNC's Annual Report 2018-2019


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