Farming for Nature is not-for-profit initiative which aims to support high nature value farming in Ireland. It is an independent project of the landscape charity Burrenbeo Trust (www.burrenbeo.com) and was established in 2018.
Much of the impetus for Farming for Nature has come from our experience of working with farmers in the Burren region, western Ireland. This convinced us, if given the right financial incentives, technical support and encouragement, of the enthusiasm of many farmers to look after their heritage (the pocket, head and heart as we say). During this time we also witnessed the power of ‘partnership’ in achieving what are, ultimately, common goals: indeed we are delighted to welcome many of these partners, agricultural and environmental, in supporting this initiative.
The Farming For Nature project started with a national award. The main purpose of this award was to unearth and to share the stories of farmers across Ireland who are making a positive difference to nature on their farms and in their communities. We want to show that farmers are a part of nature and not apart from it, and we want to use these positive testimonies to encourage others to follow suit. We want to show that farming for nature can also be agriculturally, economically and socially progressive. Of course storytelling alone won’t solve all of our challenges. So we have been busy developing our resources, our outreach and expanding our network. We hope to use this website and other media to promote and share some of the exciting emerging initiatives and technical innovations taking place in Ireland today, for example the locally-led ‘European Innovation Partnerships’ and our ‘Results-based’ Agri-environmental programmes.
Today Farming for Nature has grown to nearly 100 farmers from across Ireland and across the farming sectors in a network. Our objective is to seek to acknowledge and support farmers who farm, or wish to farm, in a way that will improve the natural health of the countryside.
We do this by:
- Building a network of exemplary farmers
- Celebrating the positive role that these farmers play in supporting biodiversity
- Making sure that this ‘can do’ attitude is reflected in the discourse around farming & the environment
- Enabling farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange
- Developing practical resources in easy-to-digest format
- Providing advisory services
- Advocating on behalf of this growing farming community
We hope you can join us on this journey.
Brigid is the Project Manager for the Farming for Nature project since June 2018. She works five mornings a week. Prior to this initiative, she was the manager of the landscape charity Burrenbeo Trust for 9 years, biodiversity officer for Clare County Council and a project officer on numerous conservation projects abroad for the previous 10 years. Brigid comes from a suckler and tillage farm in Co.Cork. Listen here to a podcast on how she got involved in conservation and the background to Farming For Nature. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy is the Programmes Officer for the Farming For Nature project since March 2021. Growing up on a small mixed farm in Co.Wexford, she has always had a keen interest in nature, animals and growing food. Following completion of a BSc Food Science in UCD in 2017, she completed an 18-month graduate programme with Bord Bia in Dublin. Having spent some time travelling and volunteering on farms in South America, she recently completed a course in permaculture/sustainable horticulture in Kinsale College. Lucy works 2 days a week with Farming for Nature between March and November. Lucy can be contacted on email@example.com
Dr Brendan Dunford
From a farming background in Co. Waterford, Brendan has spent the past 20 years living and working in the Burren region. He led the award-winning BurrenLIFE Project (2005-2010), its successor, the pioneering ‘Burren Farming for Conservation Programme’ (2010-2015) and currently manages the new ‘Burren Programme’. Along with his late wife Ann O’Connor, Brendan co-founded Burrenbeo Teo and is secretary of its successor, the Burrenbeo Trust, Ireland’s only landscape-based charity which delivers an extensive annual programme of place-based learning initiatives. Brendan is a former board member of the Heritage Council, a former member of the EPA Advisory Committee and a former Director of the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism. He is an Ashoka Fellow for Ireland. He works on a voluntary basis on this project.
Dr James Moran
James is a lecturer in Biology and Ecology at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. His research and outreach work concentrates on sustainable agricultural systems specialising in High Nature Value farming. He leads a number of projects in this area at GMIT and IT Sligo. He is particularly interested in the potential of a HNV farmland network where innovative local communities can work in partnership to realise a sustainable future for their area. He is a member of the National Biodiversity Forum and the National Rural Network sub-committee on Biodiversity, Environmental Challenges and LIFE Programmes. He works on a voluntary basis on this project.
Michael is a first and foremost a farmer in Co.Clare. His family have farmed his piece of land for hundreds of years. Michael was instrumental in aiding the Burren farming for conservation project to start up. Michael is the chairman of the local Irish Farmer’s Association. He is on the steering committee of the Burren Programme and is a Director of the Burrenbeo Trust. He works on a voluntary basis on this project.
There are many more people advising and supporting this project on a part-time voluntary basis. We are truly grateful for all their help and support
What is Farming For Nature Podcast
The founders of Farming for Nature, Brigid Barry and Brendan Dunford, explain what the initiative is, and how and why farmers across Ireland should get involved.
Much of the work of the Farming For Nature initiative is done on a voluntary basis. However the below have offered support to specific areas and this project would not be possible without their support.
Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, was established to promote and market Irish food, drink and horticulture at home and abroad. It acts as a link between Irish producers and their customers worldwide. Bord Bia uses its Origin Green Programme, the world’s first national food sustainability programme, to verify and market the sustainability credentials of Irish food and drink. For more info go to www.origingreen.ie We are very grateful to Bord Bia for their sponsorship of the National Farming for Nature Awards since 2018.
The Burrenbeo Trust www.burrenbeo.com is a landscape charity dedicated to connecting people to their place and their role in caring for them. Based in Kinvara, Co. Galway Burrenbeo engages with local and visiting communities, old and young, to generate a sense of informed pride in their heritage and landscape. Burrenbeo also organise the annual Burren Winterage festival including the Winterage School on Sustainable farming, the Innovation Fair, Farming Awards and Cattle Drove (www.burrenwinterage.com) and work closely with the Burren Programme (www.burrenprogramme.com). Burrenbeo Trust is our host partner that Farming For Nature orginated from. They offer admin support to the iniative.
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s mission is to lead the sustainable development of a competitive, consumer-focused agri-food sector and to contribute to a vibrant rural economy and society. It is led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine who is assisted by one Minister of State. DAFM are co-supporting the development of our resources and outreach along with NPWS since 2019. For more information go to www.agriculture.gov.ie
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)
The National Parks and Wildlife Service helps secure the conservation of a representative range of ecosystems to maintain and enhance populations of flora and fauna in Ireland through policy, monitoring and education. NPWS were the main sponsors of the BurrenLIFE project, predecessor to the Burren Programme. NPWS are co-supporting the development of our resources and outreach along with DAFM since 2019. For more information go to www.npws.ie
National Rural Network
The National Rural Network is a component of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 led by Irish Rural Link in partnership with The Wheel, NUI Galway and Philip Farrelly & Co. The overall aim of the NRN is to build and sustain a membership-based network that maximises the beneficial outcomes of the Rural Development Programme. They offered support towards administration of the project since 2018. For more information go to www.nationalruralnetwork.ie
What they say:
The metrics on website usage, farm visits, social media, etc. and the insights on feedback from external stakeholders is all very interesting and supports in real terms, what we have been witnessing in general. It has been very positive to see grow, and to be part of. Ó neart go neart mar a deirfeá. Dr Barry O’Donoghue, NPWS, commenting on the 2021 funding report.
We are grateful to the following organisations for nominating people
to our judging panel:
National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC)
The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national organisation for the collection, collation, management, analysis and dissemination of data on Ireland’s biological diversity. The Data Centre is funded by the Heritage Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. For more information go to www.biodiversityireland.ie
Teagasc is the state agency providing research, advisory and education in agriculture, horticulture, food and rural development in Ireland. For more information go to www.teagasc.ie
What others think
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. Kim & Mirielle McCall, Farming For Nature Ambassadors 2018
“Delighted to win the public vote but the real winning was been nominated and meeting like-minded farmers from across the country and spectrum of farming systems. For us it was a privilege to be there with such high-class people engaged with their land.”
Thomas and Claire O’Connor, winners of the 2019 Public Choice Award
“Through working with Farming For Nature I am amazed by all the larger more commercial farmers having those light bulb moments when they question all they were putting into their farm (not just fertilizer and chemicals but also labour) and weighing up what they get out of it in return – and then making the change and not looking back – less costs, better life, more time for family.” Nia O’Malley, Beef Farmer & Farming for Nature Ambassador, Co.Galway
“I am thrilled to win the FFN public vote award. It’s so nice that so many people liked how I farm with consideration for nature. More importantly it’s amazing to be part of an evergrowing network of FFN Ambassadors and like-minded people who are working together for nature – together can achieve a lot!” Sean Condon, Winner of the 2022 Public Vote Award.