‘No one is lead­ing farm­ers on this’

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - AGENDA -

With the right knowl­edge and re­sources, Donal Sheehan be­lieves farm­ers can serve as friends of the en­vi­ron­ment. Driven by his pas­sion for na­ture, the Cork­based dairy farmer has in­cor­po­rated var­i­ous mea­sures such as bird feed­ers, rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tems and pol­li­na­tor cor­ri­dors into his farm­ing prac­tice.

Sheehan notes that a lack of both knowl­edge and fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives can serve as bar­ri­ers to some farm­ers who want to move to more sus­tain­able prac­tices.

“There is a huge ap­petite from farm­ers. They want to do it, but there’s no one lead­ing them,” says Sheehan, who is based in Castle­lyons.

One way he hopes to tackle this is­sue is through lo­cally-led projects. Sheehan is cur­rently the project man­ager of the BRIDE (Bio­di­ver­sity Re­gen­er­a­tion In a Dairy­ing En­vi­ron­ment) project in the Bride Val­ley in east Cork.

This project — which was selected by the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the EU un­der the Euro­pean In­no­va­tion Part­ner­ship (EIP) fund­ing pro­gramme — re­wards farm­ers who pro­tect im­por­tant wildlife habi­tats on their farm­land, such as hedgerows, bogs, wood­land and ponds.

Over a five-year pe­riod, the wildlife on these farms will be as­sessed and farm­ers will be re­warded on a unique re­sults-based pay­ment sys­tem, i.e. one that sees higher pay­ments for higher wildlife gains.

The project, which is one of our first to fo­cus on in­ten­sive farm­land, was de­signed by lo­cal farm­ers for lo­cal farm­ers.

“This is for habi­tats, species and peo­ple in the Bride val­ley. If farm­ers can fo­cus on their own im­me­di­ate area, you will get bet­ter buy-in from oth­ers as it’s lo­cal and peo­ple will feel the ef­fects lo­cally,” he says, adding that much of the farm­land by the Bride river­bank is an SAC (Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion).

“This is one way we can solve the many en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.