Ray O’Foghlu grew up in Currabinny, County Cork and although not farming himself he comes from a well known farming family in north Tipperary. He now lives in Ballyvaskin, West Clare with his partner Katie and their first child on the way.
Originally a secondary school teacher, Ray retrained in environmental science, acquiring a level nine postgraduate diploma with a focus on forestry and water quality. He also holds a BA and H.Dip in Education.
He currently works for An Taisce, Ireland’s National Trust. Most of his work is dedicated to on-the-ground community engagement. His most recent project has been facilitating small community woodlands called “An Choill Bheag” with the Learning about Forests (LEAF) programme. He also does consulting work for the Hometree charity based in west Clare and runs the Tributary Talk series in Corks Nano Nagle Centre.
Ray is an advocate of returning trees and forests of all types to the Irish landscape. He believes native and commercial woodlands, hedgerows, riparian buffer strips and other forms of tree cover can deliver functionality and value to landowners as well as benefits to the wider community. These can include farm income diversification, carbon sequestration, mitigation of air and water emissions, regulatory compliance, increasing biodiversity and reducing flooding and soil erosion risk.
Ray is passionate about the future for rural Ireland but believes its long-term success lies in acknowledging its vulnerabilities. He sees trees as a key strategy in addressing these and firmly believes that they can exist alongside farming rather than displacing it.
His study topic “Acquiring social licence to increase tree cover on the Irish landscape” will investigate attitudes and explore policy opportunities in this area. He will utilise on the ground engagement, best available evidence and experience from other countries to further this goal. He hopes his research will chart a path forward which has a broad based support from key rural stakeholders and their communities as well as environmental advocates.