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.
Ex-oficio Board Member: Prof Jane Stout
Professor in Botany, Trinity College Dublin
Former NCI Chair Jane recently took on a new role as Vice President for Biodiversity & Climate Action at 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 this forum and is also Chair of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
Director: Kate Hotten
Managing Director, FINTRAIL
Kate helps companies design sustainable, effective controls to protect themselves and their customers from financial crime risk. She is an independent non-executive director, and previously built and led Stripe's global anti-financial crime program 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 Ireland for the first time, and Business For Biodiversity, 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. Emer is currently an NCI Researcher and 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
Sustainability & Climate Advisor
A committed climate action advocate, Ali has worked for over 13 years in sustainability across the private, public and NGO sectors in Ireland as well as the UK and Netherlands, supporting organisations with sustainability strategy, policy, risk, communications, and engagement. She holds a BSc Environmental Management (DIT), MSc Management for Sustainable Development (DCU), MSc Business Sustainability (UCD Smurfit School), and in 2020, she embarked on a PhD focusing on Sustainability Leadership with Maynooth University. On a community level, Ali volunteers with her local Sustainable Energy Community in Maynooth and currently sits on the Kildare Climate Action Strategic Policy Committee.
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.
Dr Catherine Farrell
Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College Dublin
Catherine has recently moved to lead the new LIFE on Machair project, after leading our 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.
Sustainability Policy Lead, Irish Water
Charlie is an environmental scientist with over 20 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 a 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.
Steering Committee Chair: Conor Kretsch
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. He has contributed to several national and global reviews of ecosystem services and the importance of natural capital to human well-being, including for NPWS, European Commission, IPBES and WHO-CBD joint work programme on biodiversity and health.
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 also initiated steps towards a national 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 Dorothy Maxwell FICRS
Senior Sustainability Director, Davy Sustainability Advisory
Dr Dorothy Maxwell is 20 years working 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 Program. Moving to the UK, she became Director of the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Sustainable Products and Green Economy programs. She has been the Special Advisor to The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit on sustainable finance and founding Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition (Singapore/London). With business she has worked across chemical/pharma/consumer products and construction as a sustainability consultant. She has been a Head of Sustainability leading sustainability programmes in both (House of Fraser/Sanpower China /UK/ROI) and Brown Thomas/Selfridges Group(UK/ROI). She is a Prince of Wales's Responsible Business Ambassador, visiting lecturer on sustainable business at Imperial College London, and is the author of Valuing Natural Capital: Future Proofing Business & Finance. She is Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS).
Forest Ecologist, Coillte
Janice is a botanist and ecologist with over 25 years experience of field survey, data analysis and interpretation, habitat assessment and monitoring, development of management plans for woodlands and other habitats, and working with community groups, local authorities, government bodies and the private sector. She works as a Forest Ecologist for Coillte and is also a Tidy Towns adjudicator, with a particular interest in communicating ecology to a wider audience and aims to promote the natural capital value of trees, woodland and forestry in our landscapes.
CEO, Ulster Wildlife
Chief Executive Officer at 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.
Dr John O'Neill
Principal Officer - formerly Climate Policy, Dept of the Environment, Climate and Communications, now Department of Transport
John has a doctorate from UCD in freshwater ecology and rehabilitation of natural habitats and previously worked in Local Government and Housing Policy. His last role in the Department of the Environment covered extensive climate policy areas, spanning 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. He took up a principal role in Transport in 2021.
Ecologist, Bord na Móna
Mark brings nearly 20 years of knowledge and experience of working as an ecologist and 10 years of working with Bord na Móna Ecology Team, planning peatland rehabilitation. Bord na Móna is embarking on an ambitious enhanced bog restoration programme, which will have significant benefits for ecosystem services and natural capital. Mark worked closely with Dr Catherine Farrell developing Phase 1 of the Bord na Móna Natural Capital account pilot project so has excellent knowledge of the natural capital system's benefits in communicating changes in habitat condition.
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.
Agricultural Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Niall is an Agricultural Inspector in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine having joined them 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 based in Johnstown Castle Co. Wexford and his main responsibilities focus on Biodiversity policy, soils and EIA (agriculture) Regulations.
Dr Noeleen Smyth
Assistant Prof Horticulture, Environment & Sustainable Resource Management, UCD
Noeleen 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 a PhD on Forest Restoration and Invasive species management on Pitcairn Island,
South Central Pacific, while project manager of the “Roseapple project” funded by the UK
government and Foreign Office. She has worked in various environmental roles, home and
abroad, in national and international botanic gardens. She represents Ireland as the CITES
(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora) Scientific
Authority and a member of the EU Scientific Review Group (EU SRG) whose mission is to
ensure sustainable trade in wild rare species across the EU. She worked with the OPW at the
National Botanic Gardens and contributed to OPW Biodiversity working group.
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 writes for The Irish Times and other media on environmental issues, especially ecological restoration; 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.
Development Manager, NI Environment Link
As Development Manager at NI Environment Link (the umbrella body for non-statutory environmental organisations in NI), Sean's skills and experience include co-ordination of Brexit-related activities, assisting members to influence policy at all levels and participation in funding opportunities, leading a number of work streams including climate change, freshwater, biodiversity & agriculture. He has a background in agriculture and was a former member of the NI Council for Nature Conservation & the Countryside. Promoting the island of Ireland and its surrounding seas as a single biogeographic unit, Sean argues that addressing shared environmental issues on an all-island basis relies on close cross-border cooperation and believes applying a natural capital approach on an all-island basis will bring shared socio-economic and environmental benefits leading to improved well-being for all citizens on the island.
Environmental Protection Agency
Tadhg graduated in Plant Science from University College Cork in 1984. He worked with NPWS on national surveys during 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 working in the areas of EIA and EcIA. Tadhg joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 1997 and has, since 2003, headed up the EPA’s Strategic Environmental Assessment Unit in the Office of Evidence and Assessment. His role involves advocating and promoting 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. He is a visiting lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and NUI Galway on post graduate courses. Tadhg has a particular interest in freshwater and marine ecology, he is a keen photographer and an avid collector and reader of natural history publications.
Advisor, Climate Action and Strategic Growth, ChangeX
A self-confessed climaholic, Tom 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, formerly working on results-based financing at Natural Capital Partners, now as Advisor, Climate Action and Strategic Growth at ChangeX. By night, he leads the development of a new global platform to engage fellow climate enthusiasts across the spectrum of private sector and civil society via The Climate Cocktail Club.
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.