Tributes have been paid to Ulster Wildlife Fund CEO and Bog Meadows champion Jennifer Fulton who passed away recently after a short illness.

The environmental charity described their chief executive as "a force of nature".

"Jennifer joined Ulster Wildlife as our Chief Executive in 2012 and led the charity with passion, energy and dedication - spearheading many areas of work including farming with nature and peatland restoration," the organisation said. "Her commitment and drive to achieve nature’s recovery through our work was evident and an inspiration to anyone that knew her.  Jennifer’s passing is not only a huge loss to Ulster Wildlife but to the wider nature conservation sector in Northern Ireland, in which she played a pivotal part."

Life-long Bog Meadows' campaigner Aidan Crean said the Ulster Wildlife chief had an "indomitable spirt". "Jennifer always wanted the best for the West Belfast community and for the Bog Meadows," he said. "She understood how precious this wonderful environmental treasure was for the local community and worked ceaselessly to engage with neighbouring residents. At the same time, she was fearless in fighting for what was best for this endangered environmental asset."

Ms Fulton had led efforts to preserve and promote the Bog Meadows, working closely with the local community to achieve a balance between caring for the environment and offering access to a jewel in the crown of West Belfast. 

During the COVID lockdown when indoor recreational venues were shuttered, she worked to facilitate increased visitor numbers to the Bog Meadow. 

"Numbers have increased at Bog Meadows nature reserve as people have been rediscovering their local green spaces during these challenging times," the UWF CEO told the Andersonstown News. 

"Bog Meadows provides the perfect space for people to get outdoors, get their daily exercise, improve their health and wellbeing, and reconnect with nature and wildlife.  And it's right here on our doorstep."

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, who had been working closely with Jennifer Fulton and her team on the proposed West Belfast Greenway and Cycleway expressed condolences with the Ulster Wildlife Fund CEO's family and colleagues. "She brought a vibrancy and positive to every project she tackled and her steady hand and inclusive approach to building bridges to the local community will be sorely missed," he said. 

Ms Fulton, who passed away on 5 May, is survived by her husband Norman and children Sarah, James and Peter.