Irish Uplands Forum – Autumn Meeting 2018 Speakers

Michael Starrett

Michael Starrett is the Chief Executive of the Heritage Council of Ireland.

A graduate ecologist and biologist with post graduate qualifications in education and landscape management he has over 35 years experience in the areas of natural and cultural heritage management and policy development. He holds a Masters in Management Practice from Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Management Institute. His professional qualifications include membership of the Landscape Institute LI(UK) and he is an Honorary Member of the Irish Landscape Institute.  In addition to a career path that has seen him work in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, he has extensive European experience through membership of the Federation of National and Nature Parks of Europe.  He was the first Irishman to be elected as President of the Federation from 2002-2005 and still retains membership of the body.  He recently stepped down as a member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas. He has been Chair of the Council of National Cultural Institutions on two occasions, most recently in 2014 and was formally a member of the Board of the Theatre Royal in Waterford.

Michael has traveled extensively studying legislation and systems that allow the sustainable management and development of cultural and natural landscapes and has maintained ongoing professional development of innovative and contemporary approaches in this aspect of his work. He has retained involvement with the Council of Europe through ongoing development of the European Landscape Convention and promotion of a community based approach to European Heritage Days and the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy has an upland farm in the Ox Mts where she raises sheep, ponies and bees.

She has a degree in law from South Africa (BA LLB University KZN-Pmb) and has twenty five years of experience of issues concerned with Land Use, Tenure and Agrarian Reform in South and Southern Africa and Ireland. Her particular interests are differing forms of land use, tenure and management, in particular communal property regimes, land use and natural resource management, ecosystems approach to agriculture, sustainability and rural development, forestry and sustainability and land grabbing. She has worked as a facilitator trainer, on projects concerned with change management, participatory research and planning, multi stakeholder consultations and needs based assessments.

Dr Jenni Roche

Dr Jenni Roche is an Ecologist and Project Manager with over 15 years experience of working in environmental consultancy, research and protected area management. Jenni is currently the Coordinator of Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership, a multi-agency body which manages a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. She was previously a Senior Ecologist with BEC Consultants and was one of the lead Ecologists on the National Survey of Upland Habitats (2009-2014). She completed a PhD on the ecology and native status of Scots pine in Ireland at Trinity College Dublin. She is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

Dr Brendan O'Keefe

Dr Brendan O’Keeffe is Co-Director of The Institute for Action Research.  A Human Geographer, he was a Senior Lecturer and Director of Quality in Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.  His research areas include local development, governance, cross-border collaboration and demographics.  Brendan has considerable practitioner experience in rural and community development.  He worked with IRD Duhallow on LEADER and local development initiatives.  Brendan has also worked, in an advisory capacity, with authorities and civil society organisations in several countries on local development strategies and project management.

Prof Davy McCracken

Title of Talk:

Ecosystem Services from the Scottish Uplands”

Davy McCracken: Davy has spent over thirty years studying the interactions between wildlife and European farming systems. He joined Scotland’s Rural College in 1995 and 5 years ago became the Head of SRUC’s Hill & Mountain Research Centre, based at the Kirkton & Auchtertyre research and demonstration farms, near Crianlarich. These 2,200 ha farms are acting as a platform for upland agricultural, environmental and increasingly agro-forestry research and demonstration.

Orla Murphy

Orla Murphy is an architect and Assistant Professor in UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy. In 2012 Orla founded Custom Architecture a practice which specialises in research, design and community engagement. In 2018 Orla was appointed as Co-commissioner/co-curator of the Irish National Pavilion, entitled Free Market, at the world’s most prestigious architecture exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, bringing an exploration of public space in Irish rural towns to an international audience.  Free Market will return to Ireland in 2019 as part of its National Tour.

She is also co-presenter of RTE’s documentary series Building Ireland.

Denis Strong

National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Denis has been working in the National Parks & Wildlife Service – Western Region since 1991 and is involved in all aspects of conservation management, education and wildlife law enforcement duties in the region.

Starting initially as a conservation ranger in west county Mayo, he studied Field Ecology at University College Cork, incorporating a particular interest in water quality and land-use management.

He was promoted to District Conservation Officer in 1998, co-ordinating all aspects of Ranger duties within the Region and working on the establishment of Irelands 6th National Park among the Owenduff/Nephin Beg mountains.

On promotion to Deputy Regional Manager in 2002, Denis represented NPWS on monitoring groups with other state agencies, covering various projects and scales, including the nationally-significant Corrib Gas project.

He also co-ordinated and assisted in the organising and running of numerous terrestrial and marine surveys including Ireland’s first all island comprehensive grey seal population assessments. Currently, Project Manager for the National Corncrake conservation project in the Western and Northern regions for NPWS.

He has worked closely with Mayo County Council, Coillte Teoranta and the Forest Service on property management in the western region including co-ordinating the Native Woodland Scheme and the EU LIFE Blanket Bog Project.

Currently working as western Divisional Manager since 2014, managing three National Parks, 16 Nature Reserves  including Coole Park Nature Reserve and visitor facilities, he is involved in the delivery  “Investing in our Culture and Heritage” for the Department as part of Project 2040.

Since 2009, he has being working on the delivery of a unique re-wilding project in the Nephin Mountain range. This extensive project involves the conversion of over 4,000 ha of poor quality conifer forest to be enhanced for nature conservation, education and sustainable outdoor recreation.

Dr James Moran

Title of Talk:

European Innovation Partnership models (EIPs): Engines for Innovation in the Uplands

Dr. James Moran is a lecturer in Biology and Ecology at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology teaching on agriculture and environment related programmes.  His research and outreach work concentrates on sustainable agricultural systems. Research areas include agri-environmental scheme design; High Nature Value farmland; biodiversity and ecosystem services; protected areas management; grazing ecology and wetland ecosystems. He leads a number of projects in these areas at GMIT and IT Sligo. He is particularly interested in the potential of a HNV farmland network where innovative local communities can work in partnership to realise a sustainable future for their area.”

Prof Frank Rennie

Frank Rennieis Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland and Assistant Principal at Lews Castle College UHI. Initially a geologist, he tutors on the online MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and also the MSc Digital Pedagogy, as well as supervising research students. His main research interests lie in new approaches to online education and the potential benefits of digital networking for sustainable rural development. He has been an advisor to several government bodies and is a Fellow of six learned societies. Frank has been involved in developing and delivering various combinations of distributed learning and Open Educational Resources (particularly networked digital solutions for rural areas) with a wide range of international partners. He has published a diverse range of resources related to rural issues, including over 30 books and e-textbooks.

Dr Maura Farrell

Dr Maura Farrell is a full-time Lecturer in Rural Geography at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Maura’s academic training is in Rural and Agricultural Geography, and her interests are specifically focused around processes of social, cultural and economic change for rural inhabitants.  Maura is currently Lead Researcher with Ireland’s National Rural Network, while also working on Horizon 2020 and Northern Peripheries research projects; which focus largely on rural social change and land use policy.

Frank Nugent

Frank Nugent is a Mountaineer, explorer and author. He was Chairman of the Mountaineering Council of Ireland (1997–2000), Deputy Leader of the first successful Irish Everest Expedition (1993).

Frank has had a lifelong interest in the sustainable management of the Irish Uplands and was one of the organisers of a conference in 1996 in Galway called: Towards the Sustainable Management of the Irish Uplands.  Arising out of this conference the Irish Uplands Forum non-governmental organisation was established.  Frank was its first Chairman a role he was elected to in 2009.

Verena Berard

My name is Verena Berard, I am a GMIT Rise scholarship MA candidate at Galway Mayo Institute of technology in Castlebar. I have a BA Honours degree in Heritage studies and my dissertation for the BA Hons assessed the environmental impact of sheep grazing on privately owned hill farms near Lough Mask, Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo.

Title : The impact of sheep grazing on farmland, outside designated areas, in the townland of Cappanacreha, South Co. Mayo

I am originally from Germany, but for the last six years I live and farm together with my fiancé, a small sheep hill farm in Tourmakeady in the southwest of Ireland.

Currently I am doing a research masters, documenting hill farmers attitudes and opinions on current Agri- environmental schemes, effecting hill farmers’ pro-environmental behaviour in the Connemara Uplands, such as GLAS. The study also includes hill farmers viewpoints in the Slieve Aughty mountains, participating in the Hen Harrier project (EIP). A particular focus of my masters is to identify of hill famers subjectivities and viewpoints in relation to current Agri- environmental schemes and how these might affect their behaviour and land management practices.

Title : “Cultivating pro-environmental behaviour, through Agri-environmental schemes, among hill farmers in the (Connemara) Uplands”

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