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Feb 2018 right left


Snowdrop Strolls

Thursday 1st February
Rowallane Garden
Normal Admission, Members Free


Snowdrop Walks

Saturday 3rd February
Springhill, Moneymore
Normal Admission Members Free

Snowdrop Walks

Saturday 3rd February
The Argory, Moy
Normal Admission Members Free

Path Edging and Bird Count

Saturday 3rd February
Comber Greenway

Pond Improvement

Sunday 4th February
Rea’s Wood Antrim


Rethinking Engagement – A Dialogue Approach

Wednesday 7th February
Holywell Diversecity Community Partnership Building, 10–12 Bishop St, Derry


NI Science Festival 2018

Thursday 15th February
Various, see website for details
See website for details

Brexit, Climate and Energy Policy

Thursday 15th February
Arthur Cox, Ten Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2


Nest Fest

Saturday 17th February
Springhill, Moneymore
Normal Admission, Members Free

Woodland walk at Breen Forest on Glenshesk Road

Saturday 17th February
Breen Forest on Glenshesk Road

Scrub Clearance

Sunday 18th February
Slievenacloy Nature Reserve, Belfast Hills


Priorities for Transport Infrastructure in Northern Ireland

Tuesday 20th February
Radisson Blu Hotel, The Gasworks, 3 Cromac P lace, Ormeau Road, Belfast
See website for details


Shifting Shores Wave 2 seminar

Thursday 22nd February
Olympic Suite, Titanic Belfast


Grassroots Social Event in Belfast

Saturday 24th February


Making the Most of Nature… 27 August 2015

”Making the Most of Nature’s Role in Society” by Roisin O’Riordan, Ecosystems Knowledge Network



While those reading this may be all too aware of our reliance on nature for life’s essentials, this can be easily overlooked elsewhere in society. More than ever before, our concern for the natural environment must be communicated in ways that make it relevant to the everyday agendas of ordinary people. We need to connect these concerns with the things that are on the minds of those not traditionally interested in environmental issues, topics like making wise business investments, keeping healthy and tackling inequality. The term ‘ecosystem services’ is now often used as a helpful way of giving greater recognition to the amazing diversity of what nature does for individuals, communities and society as a whole. ‘Green infrastructure’ and ‘natural capital’ are the buzzwords for what underpins these services. Connecting these services with society’s needs and aspirations is the key to valuing nature for all its worth.

A range of initiatives across Northern Ireland are starting to illustrate how important nature is to the lives of ordinary people and businesses, including those for whom nature conservation is not a priority. One such initiative is the RSPB Lough Neagh Basin Futurescapes project. It is working closely with local stakeholders and enhancing the multiple benefits that this area of land and water can help provide for both nature and society. At Lough Beg, the wet grassland restoration project has made the connection with managing water levels and farming, with reducing flood risk, with biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. Elsewhere, the Belfast Hills Partnership is helping to show how the city of Belfast depends on its surroundings.

“The ecosystem approach provides a framework for managing the relationship between people and nature”

There is now a strong narrative in support of these kinds of people–centred and forward thinking initiatives. The Biodiversity Strategy for Northern Ireland to 2020, published in July 2015, advocates this large–scale thinking. It puts forward the ecosystem approach as the starting point for its implementation. The ecosystem approach provides a framework for managing the relationship between people and nature, including the application of thinking about ecosystem services. It emphasises the importance of involving people, businesses and communities in decision making, and encourages them to realise how dependent they are upon nature’s health.

This large–scale strategic thinking also underpins the approach in the report ‘Towards a Land Strategy for Northern Ireland’. The report, published in 2014 by the James Hutton Institute in collaboration with Northern Ireland’s Land Matters Task Force, reviewed the contributions that land makes to the economy and society in Northern Ireland. The report sets out a vision whereby land and landscapes are “managed for the benefit of people’s well–being and prosperity, respecting the views of communities, groups and individuals, striving for environmental excellence, and making best use of its multi–functionality”.


Assessing what the natural processes and features in any one place do for society may seem like a daunting task. While technical know–how can come in handy (for example when mapping ecosystem service provision) this kind of assessment should not be the preserve of academics and consultants. Local communities and stakeholders need to be at the centre of continual appraisal of all that nature does for people. This dialogue can be the starting point for new conversations, new partners, new funding and action on the ground.

“Making nature relevant to society is not just about money”



A recent study by the University of Exeter focused on the public’s attitudes to the concepts of the ecosystem approach and the ecosystem services framework, and how these concepts resonate with societal concerns about the environment. The ‘Naturally Speaking…’ public dialogue found that cultural services were frequently singled out by participants as an indication of the framework’s holistic outlook, while the logic of provisioning services (such as the production of food) was well understood and articulated by participants who saw the strong connection between environmental processes and economic prosperity.

Whilst there is lots of talk of payments for ecosystem services, making nature relevant to society is not just about money. It is about dealing with our most pressing health challenges, and creating places where people want to live and visit.

The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is a resource for anyone wanting to make more of nature’s role in society

The Ecosystems Knowlegde Network run events and webinars sharing the know–how of those who are putting the ecosystem approach into practice. Our website is full of links to practical examples and tools.

To join for free as a member go to You’ll receive all the benefits of being part of a fast–growing UK–wide network of people working on what the ecosystem approach means for the management of land and water. Phone or email to have your say on activities that you would like to see in Northern Ireland that help equip people to show nature’s role in society.

We are planning on more collaboration with Northern Ireland Environment Link in the future.

Roisin O’Riordan
Project Officer
Ecosystems Knowledge Network