On Friday, 29th of April, Effective Nature Laws hosted a methodology workshop in the UCD Sutherland School of Law, the aims of which were to stimulate debate and to gain feedback on the project’s theoretical and methodological frameworks to date. Participants came from an array of institutions and organisations throughout the EU, resulting in a remarkable richness of experience and expertise in attendance both from the biodiversity and broader environmental governance perspectives. This article provides a greatly edited overview of some of the topics discussed – a complete account of everyone’s contribution to the workshop would far exceed the word count capacity of this blog!

Proceedings were opened by Michael O’Briain, who set the context for the Effective Nature Laws project and highlighted its pertinence given that a Fitness Check is currently being conducted for the Habitat and Birds Directives by the European Commission.

Prof Colin Scott from UCD praised the sophistication of the Effective Nature Laws project and provided important insights into how we might account for different attitudes towards property rights and land ownership across the three jurisdictions.

A representative from Teagasc (The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) provided expertise in the areas of data collection and the evaluation of compliance.

Insight into the areas of French, and Dutch, law were contributed by Prof Michel Prieur from the University of Limoges, and Prof Chris Backes of Utrecht University, respectively. Both Prof Prieur and Prof Backes also gave their time generously prior to the workshop, providing the Effective Nature Laws team with invaluable information on compliance issues specific to both jurisdictions.

Dr Áine Ryall from University College Cork and representatives from the Department of Environment Community and Local Government, executed an interesting discussion about the role that the Aarhus Convention plays in Irish Law and how this may be measured. Delegates from the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) raised a number of issues relating to the role that the judiciary plays in enforcing Nature Laws and the importance of fostering local leadership towards compliance amongst landowners. A member from the Irish Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) outlined how communication strategies are vital for improving compliance levels towards environmental law, citing how approaching the Irish Countrywomen’s Association greatly accelerated the effectiveness of the EPA’s septic tank strategy.

A representative from Birdwatch Ireland mentioned, amongst other things, how regulatees’ attitude towards, and level of awareness of, Nature Laws matter enormously with regard to compliance. Dr Andrew Jackson from UCD questioned whether we need to account for historical and political contexts during the course of the research, with Dr Ryall noting that the role of media in setting contexts cannot be undermined.

As is evident from above, the Effective Nature Law team now have plenty of food for thought regarding the future of the project. We would like to sincerely thank all who were involved. Your input will inform and enhance our study into the design of effective biodiversity governance laws over the coming years.


Dr. Geraldine Murphy & Hugh McDowell


A full list of attendees is set out below:


Name Organization/Institution Role
Dr. Aine Ryall University College Cork Senior Lecturer, School of Law
Dr. Andrew Jackson University College Dublin Senior Lecturer, Sutherland School of Law
Aoife Byrne Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Environment Policy and Awareness
Aoife Joyce Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Environment Policy and Awareness
Dr. Cathal O’Donoghue Teagasc Head, Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme
Prof. Chris Backes Utrecht University, Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law Professor
Prof. Colin Scott University College Dublin ‎Principal, UCD College of Social Sciences and Law
Dr. Geraldine Murphy University College Dublin Postdoctoral Researcher, Effective Nature Laws Project
Gerard O’Leary Environment Protection Agency Director, Office of Environmental Enforcement
Hugh McDowell University College Dublin Barrister-at-Law; Research Assistant, Effective Nature Laws Project
Julie Foulon University College Dublin PhD candidate, Sutherland School of Law; Reseracher, Effective Nature Laws Project
Michael O’Briain European Commission, DG Environment Deputy Head of Unit, Nature Unit
Micheal Callaghan University College Dublin PhD candidate, Sutherland School of Law; Reseracher, Effective Nature Laws Project
Prof. Michel Prieur University of Limoges Professor of Environmental Law
Siobhan Egan Birdwatch Ireland Senior Policy Officer
Prof. Suzanne Kingston University College Dublin Associate Professor, Sutherland School of Law; Principal Investigator, Effective Nature Laws Project
Oonagh Duggan Birdwatch Ireland Policy Officer
Niall Redmond National Parks and Wildlife Service Assistant Principal, Head of Legislation and Guidance
Gabriel Staunton National Parks and Wildlife Service Higher Executive Officer Legislation and Guidance