New award for farm­ers do­ing ex­tra for na­ture

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

Who are the farm­ers who man­age their land and live­stock in a way that ben­e­fits na­ture? The search starts now for the win­ners of the na­tional Farm­ing for Na­ture Award, a com­pe­ti­tion spon­sored by Bord Bia, and sup­ported by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, the Na­tional Ru­ral Net­work, the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice, the IFA, the Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity Data Cen­tre, Tea­gasc, and the Her­itage Council.

It is the brain­child of a group of her­itage en­thu­si­asts in the west of Ire­land, in­clud­ing Dr Bren­dan Dun­ford of the Bur­ren Pro­gramme, who says farm­ers in Co Clare’s Bur­ren have been in­spired by neigh­bours whose pi­o­neer­ing work in land man­age­ment for na­ture was recog­nised. “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,” says Dr Dun­ford. Another mem­ber of the or­gan­is­ing group, Dr James Mo­ran of GMIT, says: “Many farm­ers are go­ing that ex­tra mile for na­ture and this is an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate their achieve­ments on a na­tional scale.”

“There is wide­spread aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­men­tal da­m­age that can be caused by the wrong type of farm­ing. There isn’t as much dis­cus­sion of those do­ing a

” great job farm­ing for na­ture

Who can make a nom­i­na­tion? >> Over 100 recog­nised pro­fes­sion­als in farm­land bio­di­ver­sity will be in­vited to nom­i­nate a farmer.

How do I nom­i­nate a farmer for the award?

>> If you are con­tacted and in­vited to make a nom­i­na­tion, you can ei­ther (by Au­gust 10) fill in the on­line ap­pli­ca­tion form, or email it to info@farm­ing­for­na­ture.ie or send it by post, 2018, to Farm­ing for Na­ture, Bur­ren­beo Trust, Glebe House, Kin­vara, Co Gal­way. Please ask for the farmer’s per­mis­sion be­fore mak­ing a nom­i­na­tion.

Con­tact info@farm­ing­for­na­ture.ie if you aren’t on our nom­i­na­tors list, but would like to be.

If there is some­one you feel should be nom­i­nated, you could sug­gest to your lo­cal NPWS ranger or Her­itage Of­fi­cer that this per­son de­serves to be nom­i­nated, if not this year, then in fu­ture years. It is free to en­ter and to be in­volved in these awards.

Who is to be nom­i­nated?

>> The awards are for farm­ers who:

Have made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to pro­tec­tion or en­hance­ment of na­ture on their farm and/or in their lo­cal­ity.

Are farm­ing in a man­ner agri­cul­tur­ally, eco­nom­i­cally and so­cially progressive. Have shared their pas­sion with oth­ers (through walks, lo­cal me­dia etc).

Have a record of en­gage­ment with other stake­hold­ers. Are Ori­gin Green mem­bers through par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Sus­tain­able Dairy As­sur­ance Scheme (SDAS) or the Sus­tain­able Beef & Lamb As­sur­ance Scheme (SBLAS)

What hap­pens once the nom­i­na­tion has been sub­mit­ted?

>> The farmer will be con­tacted by the team and as­sessed. A short de­scrip­tion of the farm with pho­tos will be put up on­line. Their farm ad­vi­sor will also be con­tacted. The se­lec­tion process will short­list 10 farms to be vis­ited by a judg­ing panel. These will be fur­ther short­listed to five, and a short film cre­ated on each. There will then be an on­line vot­ing sys­tem for the awards based on these short­listed farms, so the pub­lic can view the films, and get vot­ing. The re­sults will be an­nounced on Oc­to­ber 27, 2018, as part of the Bur­ren Win­ter­age School.

Who will be on the Judg­ing panel?

>> In­cluded will be in­di­vid­u­als from the en­vi­ron­men­tal, agri­cul­tural and com­mu­nity sec­tor.

What is the Award?

>> There will be cash prizes for win­ners and run­ners up. Five short­listed farm­ers will be hosted at the awards cer­e­mony, and they will be­come Bord Bia Farm­ing for Na­ture Am­bas­sadors.

Who has funded this ini­tia­tive?

>> Most of the work is done on a vol­un­tary ba­sis. How­ever, we are very grate­ful to our key spon­sor, Bord Bia. The Na­tional Ru­ral Net­work have also con­trib­uted a small fund.

Who is ‘be­hind’ this?

>> It is sim­ply a gen­uine at­tempt by a few peo­ple to try to en­cour­age a more pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween our farm­ing sys­tems and the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment on which they de­pend.

Why are you do­ing this?

>> There is wide­spread aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­men­tal da­m­age that can be caused by the wrong type of farm­ing. There isn’t as much dis­cus­sion of those do­ing a great job farm­ing for na­ture, about the pos­i­tive sto­ries, we don’t have many good role mod­els.

This neg­a­tive nar­ra­tive can alien­ate farm­ers from na­ture, mak­ing them feel apart from it rather than part of it. En­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to feel that they are part of the so­lu­tion, not just the prob­lem, is the first step in a long jour­ney which will re­quire a lot of fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal sup­port, new part­ner­ships and new vi­sions. This can hope­fully be the start.

Philom­ena Hynes is a farmer in the Bur­ren in Co Clare and is a keen ad­vo­cate, and ex­po­nent, of farm­ing prac­tices that sup­port the high na­ture value of her farm. Such farm­ers who go the ex­tra mile for na­ture can be nom­i­nated for the new Na­tional Farm­ing for Na­ture Award (to­mor­row is the clos­ing date for nom­i­na­tions).

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