The Burrenbeo Trust is delighted to be a partner in the national Farming for Nature Award – a new initiative to source, share and celebrate stories of farmers across Ireland who are managing their land and livestock in a way that benefits nature.
The award is sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Rural Network, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Irish Farmers Association, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Teagasc and the Heritage Council.
Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme explained that ‘Every year farmers from across Ireland come to the Burren Winterage School and we are bowled over by their personal stories and enthusiasm for nature. We are convinced that with the appropriate, targeted financial and technical support, most farmers are actually very enthusiastic about farming for nature: the idea of this initiative is to provide a little wellspring of inspiration for these farmers and to shape a more positive narrative around farming and nature.’
Another member of the organising group, Dr. James Moran of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, noted: ‘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 Department of Agriculture European Innovation Partnerships, funded under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, have highlighted that there is a real appetite 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.’
Project co-ordinator Brigid Barry explained the nomination and selection process: ‘Farmers will be nominated by a panel of over 100 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 on five of these farmers will then be made and used as part of an online voting system where the public can choose their favourite story. The winner will be announced at the annual Burren Winterage School on the 27th October 2018.