The National Farming for Nature Award, sponsored by Origin Green, is now in its second year and aims to source and share stories of farmers across Ireland who are adjudged to be managing their land and livestock in a way that really benefits nature in their area.
By celebrating these ‘Farming for Nature Ambassadors’ it is hoped to inform and inspire other farmers, and members of the public, to follow suit and do what they can for nature.
The award was developed in 2018 by a group of heritage enthusiasts based in the west of Ireland. One of them, Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, explained that ‘farming is under a lot of pressure right now and, unfortunately, so is nature. We believe that, with properly targeted funding and good technical support, farmers can do an awful lot to help our threatened habitats and species, and benefit themselves as a result. We know this from the Burren.
But as part of this urgently-required ‘new deal’ for farmers and nature, it’s ever so important to have inspirational role models and teachers who can lead other farmers, and inform the broader public, about ‘farming for nature’. We are really grateful to Bord Bia for helping us to identify, celebrate and support such ‘farming for nature ambassadors’ across Ireland. The awardees from 2018 are an amazing and inspirational group of people – I’d urge everyone to check out their videos on our website – and we want to expand this network in 2019.
Another member of the organising group, Dr James Moran of GMIT, noted the opportune timing of the Award: ‘The Common Agricultural Policy is increasingly recognising farmers as more than food producers and aims to incentivise enhancement of the countryside. Recent initiatives around Ireland including EU LIFE projects, results-based payments for biodiversity and DAFM European Innovation Partnerships have highlighted the real appetite there is for farming for nature. Many farmers are going that extra mile for nature and this is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements on a national scale.’
Kim McCall, an Farming For Nature Ambassador from 2018 explained the importance of this award for the farmers involved too ‘It is great to be able to meet all these people who think the same way as we do. Very often, as a farmer, you work in isolation, especially if you do something a bit different from the “norm”. It gives a great boost to know there are a lot more farmers who do the same thing in their own corner and to feel supported in your ideas.’
Describing the Farming for Nature Awards process, Project Co-ordinator Brigid Barry explained the nomination and selection process for the award ‘Farmers will be nominated by a panel of over 200 heritage specialists across Ireland and then shortlisted based on agreed criteria. We are hoping to hear about farmers who do great things for nature, who farm in a manner that is agriculturally, economically and socially progressive, and who are willing to share their story with others. Short videos of up to ten shortlisted farmers will then be made and the public will have their chance to see these videos on-line and vote for their favourite one.
The Farming for Nature Awards are kindly sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Rural Network, The National Biodiversity Data Centre, The Heritage Council, the Irish Farmers Association and Teagasc.
Nominations can be made between now and May 12th.
For more info or images go to www.farmingfornature.ie