Steering Committee Candidate Profiles

Candidates are arranged by sector, then alphabetically by first name.

Candidates - Academia

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Dr Catherine Farrell, Trinity College Dublin

As a founding member of the IFNC, I have a long-term interest in natural capital approaches globally and in the Irish context. As senior ecologist, I developed natural capital accounts for Bord Na Móna and I am presently working on the INCASE project to develop natural capital accounts at catchment scale. I have excellent working knowledge of technical aspects of natural capital accounting as well as policy applications, with a good network of practitioners globally as well as a strong ecological / restoration practitioner network in Ireland.

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Craig Bullock, UCD & Optimize

An environmental and ecological economist who has been working in both academia and environmental consultancy for the past 30 years, I enjoy working in an interdisciplinary environment with people who are knowledgeable of ecology and environmental processes. I have worked on peatlands, forests, rivers and coastal ecosystems, mostly with regard to understanding and quantifying ecosystem services and economic/social values to inform policy. As a long-term member of the IFNC committee, my motivation is to promote the concept of natural capital, particularly as it relates the values and associations that people have with the natural environment, and from realising both the social and economic benefits it provides, including the relationship with quality of life, economic prosperity, amenity and tourism. I hope to promote this understanding among policy makers, the business community and in the wider community.

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Mary Kelly-Quinn, UCD

I am a freshwater ecologist with extensive experience in applied freshwater science, focused on identification and mitigation of human impacts on water resources especially in the context of the Water Framework Directive and climate change. I am working on identification, modelling and valuation of ecosystem services, and development of decision support tools for operationalisation of the ecosystem service approach. As an educator, I have the opportunity to introduce third-level students to the concept of natural capital. As a long-time IFNC Steering Committee member, I want to continue to contribute to efforts to integrate the natural capital (& associated ecosystem services) approach into policy and management of natural resources and see it integrated into third-level courses across a range of disciplines, from natural science to engineering to economics.

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Shane McGuinness, UCD

I aim to help guide and advise on pragmatic biodiversity conservation in Ireland, linking business interests with financial mechanisms and socio-political drivers to outline the co-benefits of conservation. The natural capital approach presents firm grounding for making this business case for biodiversity. I have a strong scientific background in biodiversity, having worked across numerous continents, institutions and sectors. I lead the Financial Needs Assessment project for biodiversity in Ireland, and am currently developing several novel cross-sectoral financial mechanisms for biodiversity. I have built extensive experience in science education and public outreach, specifically focussing on the natural world and have a wide international network related to biodiversity and finance.

Candidates - Independents

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Ali Sheridan

I have spent over twelve years working in sustainability across the private, public and NGO sectors in Ireland, the UK and Netherlands with vast experience in sustainability strategy, policy, programme development, communication and engagement. My experience, education, networks and skills can support the IFNC in the promotion, development and integration of its work through numerous sectors in Ireland and beyond. I believe the coming years will be a critical time for the development and progression of the work of the Forum. With the landscape of increasing climate ambition, it is critical that natural capital protection sits at the centre of this transition. I would like to be able to contribute to bringing natural capital to a wider audience.

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Emer Cooney

I have a Bsc. Environmental Biology, an Msc. in Biodiversity & Conservation, and an ongoing part-time Msc. in Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance. I'm trained in broadcast video production and am an experienced science communicator. I am familiar with business processes, innovation and fundraising, and my work in Bank of Ireland involves supporting innovation and enterprise across the Leinster region. My motivations are to drive positive behavioural change, halt biodiversity loss, and support green jobs. After many years of neglect, I feel that new policies such as the Sustainable Finance Action Plan, Green Deal and others, mark a turning point in how Natural Capital will be valued and considered going forwards. 

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Iseult Sheehy

A graduate of Economics and Political Science, now studying a masters in Development. I am passionate about promoting the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services as they relate to our SDG & EU Green Deal commitments, as I move into a new career in sustainable urban transitions. I am enthusiastic to be involved in stakeholder events and promoting the work of the IFNC on campus in innovative ways. I am working closely with the Trinity Sustainability Advisor Michele Hallahan this year and will be coaching five green campus subcommittees as well as overseeing Trinity Green Week in February 2021. In this role, I feel I can increase student engagement with the IFNC and hopefully influence relevant departments to include natural capital and ecosystem services in their curricula.

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Paddy Woodworth

A former Irish Times staff journalist, I write regularly on environmental issues. I am the author of 'Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century' (Chicago, 2013), which discusses the restoration of natural capital as a key conservation strategy. I also contributed to 'Restoring Natural Capital: Science, Business and Practice' (Island Press, 2007). As a long-serving Steering Committee member, I drafted the Media Response Strategy for the IFNC in 2020. I would welcome the opportunity to continue assisting the Steering Committee to raise the profile of natural capital in public discourse and media. Mindful of twin dangers - that the concept is sometimes misrepresented as 'greenwashing', and that it may indeed be hijacked by corporate interests for just such purposes, I hope to assist in clear thinking on, and clear communication of, this concept to policy-makers and the general public.

Candidates - Public Sector

Charlie Coakley, Irish Water

I am an environmental scientist with over 21 years' experience, I have shown leadership over a number of areas including biodiversity, energy efficiency and water management. This leadership has allowed winning of numerous awards including SEAI, Bord Bia and IBEC awards. My primary motivation for joining the IFNC Steering Committee is to help drive a natural capital approach both in Irish Water and nationally, through leading by example. Irish Water has a large portfolio of assets nationwide and can make a significant contribution to a natural capital approach.

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Janice Fuller, Coillte

​​I am 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. I work as a Forest Ecologist and I am also a Tidy Towns adjudicator, which I really enjoy. I have a particular interest in communicating ecology to a wider audience. My primary motivation for joining the IFNC would be to promote the natural capital value of trees, woodland and forestry on our landscapes. 

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Ken Bradley, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland

I aim to continue to contribute to the effectiveness of the IFNC by providing experience gained in taking forward natural capital in Northern Ireland in a practical approach and also relaying the position in other parts of the UK for a more joined-up and collaborative approach. I have policy experience and knowledge gained from sitting on UK bodies such as DEFRA and ONS Steering Groups on natural capital. I gained practical experience on natural capital by getting additional staff resource to work on costing main ecosystems identified on satellite mapping data and other relevant sources. I am taking forward an urban natural capital pilot of Enniskillen town during 2020/21. Going forward, I plan to secure an environmental economist to assist in producing an overall natural capital assessment of Northern Ireland using the new "living map" being produced for NI.


Mark McCorry, Bord na Móna

I bring 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. I have worked closely with Catherine Farrell developing Phase 1 of the Bord na Móna Natural Capital account pilot project so have a very good understanding of the natural capital system and its benefits at communicating changes in habitat condition. Bord na Móna is embarking on an ambitious enhanced bog restoration programme, which will have significant benefits for ecosystem services and natural capital. My main motivation for joining the IFNC committee is to engage with and benefit from the skills and expertise of the committee and members.


Dr Noeleen Smyth - National Botanic Gardens/OPW

I am a highly motivated professional botanist and horticulturalist. I have worked in the public sector, globally recognised national and international gardens and as an ecological consultant with species-habitat restoration and invasive species control. I act as the CITES Scientific Authority for Ireland and represent us at the EU Scientific Review group (SRG) and EU plant working group on trade in wildlife and wildlife products. My primary motive is to join with the diverse and experienced IFNC team to highlight that our existence is dependent on our natural capital. Through the global impacts of Covid-19, this year, the links between wild and human habitats have been highlighted. Human, animal, plant and ecosystem health are truly interdependent and ecosystems need to be valued accordingly. I want to be part of this team that signals a strong will for a national forum that will show value and “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss.

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Shane Dineen, Fáilte Ireland

I am the Environment & Planning Manager at Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, having taken up the role in 2018, and previously practiced as a Town Planner in Dublin City Council for over 12 years. I represent Fáilte Ireland and the tourism sector on national planning groups and monitoring committees. I promote the principles and practice of responsible tourism to the industry and have developed influential relationships with key national stakeholders.

Candidates - NGO/Civil Society

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Conor Kretsch, Cohab Initiative 

I have particular expertise in linking biodiversity and ecosystem services with the diverse range of issues in human health and well-being, and translating related science into meaningful policy and practical approaches, including for implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals. I have worked on public and private sector outreach, public and professional education, and policy development. I have 20 years' experience as a consultant in environment, heritage and sustainability. I hope to help bring issues relating to public health science, policy and accounting into greater focus via the IFNC, particularly in the context of the Covid pandemic. The link between ecosystems and human health has never been more apparent or important. I would hope to facilitate outreach to the health sector, from academia and NGOs working in public health, to local and national health agencies and the pharmaceutical / medical industry operating in Ireland.


Jennifer Fulton, Ulster Wildlife

I have an interest and involvement in Natural Capital as a key decision making tool and to demonstrate the value of nature (ecosystem services), including evaluation of impact of restoration work as an eNGO. I have experience of strategic planning, project development and change management qualification; policy development and influencing skills; practical case study opportunities – current and future; and enthusiasm and commitment for the subject area of natural capital and the value this approach can bring for society.​​

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Olivia Feeney, Lough Carra Catchment Association

I have 20 years' experience working in the environment and water industry, with a great knowledge of existing legislation and policy. I have a huge interest in climate impacts and effects and engage with community groups to help address climate mitigation. I have passion, drive and the ability to engage stakeholders. I have a scientific and technical background which gives a great understanding of proposed policy. From my daily work, I have vast experience in dealing with climate and environment issues and would like to help influence policy making and take on board a collaborative approach to implement a lot of required actions. I see the IFNC having influence in this and I would like to be part of this network.


Sean Kelly, NI Environment Link

I am Development Manager at NI Environment Link (umbrella body for non-statutory environmental organisations in NI). Skills/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. I have a background in agriculture and was a former member of the NI Council for Nature Conservation & the Countryside. I have been actively promoting the island of Ireland and its surrounding seas as a single biogeographic unit, arguing that addressing shared environmental issues on an all-island basis relies on close cross-border cooperation. By joining the Steering Committee, I want to help ensure that a natural capital approach is applied on an all-island basis - I believe by doing so will bring shared socio-economic and environmental benefits leading to improved well-being for all citizens on the island.

Candidates - Private Sector

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Bernadette Phelan, Business in the Community Ireland

Being part of the IFNC Steering Committee for a number of years supports my Business in the Community Ireland role, and my function - to progress its low-carbon agenda, through education and awareness creation about natural capital among its business network; aligning and supporting the actions of the Forum in regard to engaging business leaders from a wide range of sectors. I bring comprehensive expertise and understanding of the sustainability agenda in a business context, skills in strategic planning and programme design, experience in designing programmes to engage and support business on the sustainability agenda including low-carbon initiatives. I am an effective communicator on sustainability issues to a business audience, with particular focus on senior leaders and C-suite, and within a wide range of stakeholders and networks.

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Dorothy Maxwell, Individual

I have 20 years working in sustainability with businesses, government and NGOs in Ireland, EU, Asia Pacific and the USA and a long-time role on the IFNC advisory committee. An alumnus of UCD and Imperial College London, I have a PhD in Environmental Science and MSc in Environmental Economics & Law. Starting as an environmental professional with Accenture and Enterprise Ireland, I became Ireland’s policy representative to the EC and UN Environment Programme, later Director of the UK Dept of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Sustainable Products and Green Economy programmes, and Special Advisor to The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit. I led sustainability programmes for Walmart and Brown Thomas Selfridges Group and am the Prince of Wales's Responsible Business Ambassador. Also author of the book, Valuing Natural Capital: Future Proofing Business & Finance.

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Sean MacHale, Individual

Expert in the area of Capital Markets and sustainable finance, I have published across the areas of food agri, sustainable finance and the roles of banks and ongoing thought leadership in the areas of sustainable finance. My primary motivation is to contribute to the development of commercial natural capital products and funding mechanisms to establish and increase the stock of natural capital. I have extensive experience in the area of green and sustainable finance both with the public and private sector.

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Tom Popple, Natural Capital Partners

With over 20 years experience in the design, development and delivery of natural capital programmes, Natural Capital Partners provides market leading expertise in scaling natural capital solutions. Pioneering the use of results-based financing for environmental services, we have channelled over $150million into natural capital projects across the world, supporting 130 projects in 30 ecoregions, impacting 1million people, protecting 3 million hectares and planting 20 million trees. As a current member of the Steering Committee, my motivation is that I hope to drive the adoption and scaling of natural capital solutions to achieve restorative and regenerative benefits to Irish landscapes, communities and businesses.

The IFNC reserves places on its Steering Committee for the Chair of the Board and for its past and present funders. As such, the following members will retain their positions on the Steering Committee in 2021.

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Tadhg O'Mahony,



John O'Neill, Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications

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Niall Ryan, Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine

Deirdre Lynn, National Parks & Wildlife Service

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Chair of the Board Prof Jane Stout