Shirley Gleeson


Shirley is a qualified social worker with over 15 years’ experience working in the public, private and voluntary sector in Ireland. She received her Bachelor of Social Science from UCD (University College Dublin) and Masters of Social Work from UCC (University College Cork). She has worked in the areas of child protection, child and adolescent mental health, intellectual and physical disability and medical social work. She currently works part time as a Senior Social Worker in adult mental health and delivers training for social workers in Stress Management.

She is a certified Forest Therapy Guide, Mentor and Trainer with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. She has also trained as a Nature Guide with Ecotraining in South Africa as well as undertaking an internship with the People and Conservation Departments of the South African National Parks. Shirley has trained in ecotherapy in the UK.

She has extensive postgraduate training in expressive arts therapy, counselling, stress management, therapeutic play, dialectical behavioural therapy skills, behavioural family therapy and theraputic use of mindfulness. She is also a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) facilitator.

She has recently completed an MA in Health Promotion in NUIG (National University of Ireland Galway) and is combining her skills from social work, health promotion and various nature and ecotherapy trainings to develop sustainable individual and community interventions to promote and enhance physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Diarmuid McAree

Formerly Chief Forestry Inspector of the Irish Forest Service, Diarmuid is now a Forestry Consultant and Advisor. During his time with the Forest Service he dealt with all national and international forestry related matters.  He is currently Vice Chairman of a UN/ECE/ILO Team of Specialists on Green Jobs in the Forest Sector (based in Geneva) and a Director of Crann -Trees for Ireland.  

He has degrees in Forestry, Microbiology, Entomology and Pathology from UCD and the University of Florida.  He was Chairman of Woodlands of Ireland and a board member of COFORD (Council for Forest Research and Development).  He is a part-time lecturer on Forest Protection at UCD and he is Crann’s representative on the Tree Council of Ireland.  

Diarmuid has a grá mór for the outdoor life and during his student years was Captain of the UCD Mountaineering Club.  Amongst the highlights of his adventurous travels are an ascent of Kilimanjaro and an expedition to Antarctica.  He is a member of the Irish Mountaineering Club, Birdwatch Ireland, The Society of Irish Foresters and The Environmental Pillar of the IEN (Irish Environmental Network).

Diarmuid is an enthusiastic advocate of forest ecotherapy and ecotourism.  He believes strongly in the economic, social and environmental benefits they bring to local communities by the creation of forest trails and guided walks. 

Donal O'Keeffe

Donal is a Research Psychologist who supports this project by guiding its development in line with evidence based practice and advising on mental health. Donal is employed in a Dublin based mental health service, is currently completing his PhD in recovery in enduring mental illness, and has published peer reviewed articles on recovery in national and international journals. To date, he has played an integral role in the development and rollout of multiple projects and initiatives that have promoted positive mental health in communities in Ireland.