Professor of Zoology, Yvonne Buckley, outlined the need for researchers working in the fields of ecology and technology to work to assess, protect and enhance our invaluable natural capital as she delivered her inaugural lecture at Trinity College Dublin.
The building blocks of our planet, the atmosphere, rocks, soils, living organisms and the services they provide to humanity provide the natural capital which underlies our wellbeing and lays the foundations to many of our industries.
Only by understanding human-modified landscapes, the living organisms in them, and how we can continue to live well in the long-term as the ecosystems around us change profoundly, can we build a better, more sustainable future.
And by working at the interface of ecology and technology, and by engaging with industry partners, researchers can hope to invent and develop innovative solutions to some of the greatest issues currently facing 21st Century humanity.
Professor Buckley said: “We rely on natural capital, our natural assets, as the foundations of agri-food, water, forestry and energy sectors. Our landscapes are the banks in which natural capital is lodged. We are well aware of the need for well managed banks and equally we need well managed multi-functional landscapes if we are to continue to get a flow of services and benefits from our natural capital.”
“Human technology has enabled us to create the comfortable, connected, and stimulating environments in which we live and thrive. Technology is how we use science to do things, we now need to turn technology, this “science of craft”, towards developing solutions to better manage our natural capital in order to maintain and improve our wellbeing and the wellbeing of future generations.”
“Nature is not something that we visit at the weekend – it’s not a museum. We are embedded in it, we profit from it, we make it.”
She added: "Giving an inaugural lecture is a wonderful tradition. It marks the beginning of a new phase and it gave me an opportunity to reflect deeply on why I do what I do, and on how I can continue to make an impact as a Trinity Professor.”
About Yvonne Buckley
Professor Yvonne Buckley is an ecologist working at the interface between ecology and human society. Her research addresses fundamental questions about how plant and animal populations persist and how humans re-engineer ecosystems by accident and by design.
Professor Buckley uses ecological discoveries to provide support for environmental decisions in the areas of biodiversity conservation, invasive species management, ecosystem service provision and habitat restoration. She works with local partners collecting data from field sites in the Burren, Inis Oírr, North Cork and Dublin; these data contribute to large collaborative networks that tackle ecological questions on a global scale.