Farming for Nature is an independent, not-for-profit initiative which aims to support High Nature Value (HNV) farming in Ireland.

Much of the impetus for Farming for Nature came from our experience of working with farmers in the Burren region, western Ireland. This convinced us of the enthusiasm of many farmers to look after their heritage if given the right financial incentives, technical support and encouragement (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 – to support our first public venture, the National Farming for Nature Award 2018.

The main purpose of the Award is 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 wont solve all of our challenges. 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 this field in Ireland today, for example our locally-led ‘European Innovation Partnerships’ and our ‘Results-based’ Agri-environmental programmes.

We hope you can join us on this journey.

Click here to find out more about the National Farming for Nature Award 2018.

Go to the bottom of this page to see who the TEAM is behind the Farming for Nature initiative.

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.
(McCall Family, Finalists, 2018)


Of course this project would not be possible without the numerous partners involved in supporting it.


Bord Bia

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 2018.

Burrenbeo Trust

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).

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.  For more information go to www.agriculture.gov.ie

Irish Farmers Association (IFA)

The Irish Farmers’ Association is a national organisation to represent the interests of all sectors of farming in Ireland. The IFA is Ireland’s largest farming representative organisation.  For more information go to www.ifa.ie

Irish Farmers Journal

The Irish Farmers Journal is an Irish weekly farming newspaper sold in Ireland. It is the largest selling farming newspaper in the country with a circulation of 60,934 at the end of 2017. For more information go to www.farmersjournal.ie

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

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. 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.


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

The Heritage Council

The Heritage Council provides policy advice for the government on heritage issues that include sustainability, landscape management, high nature value farming, forestry and climate change.  For more information go to www.heritagecouncil.ie

The Team

Brigid Barry

Brigid is the project coordinator for the Farming for Nature project (8 hours 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.  She can be contacted on info@farmingfornature.ie

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.

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.

Michael Davoren

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.

There are many more people that are involved in advising and support this project on a part-time voluntary basis.  We are truly grateful for all their help and support.
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