Judging Panel

The below list of judges below includes individuals from the environmental, agricultural and community sector, reflecting the importance of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of farming sustainably.

Here are the judges so far….

Adam Woods

Adam Woods is the Beef Editor for the Irish Farmers Journal.

Aine Macken Walsh

Áine Macken-Walsh is a Senior Research Officer at Teagasc’s Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP). She is a sociologist and works in transdisciplinary contexts, addressing societal challenges relating to themes such as gender, animal health, and the bioeconomy. Áine’s research has focused on social sustainability issues over the past ten years, paying particular attention to relational sustainability issues within families and communities. Her research has highlighted that integral to social sustainability are relationships between people of different gender, age and skill; and between people and land and animals. She recently designed a methodology to identify ‘good practices’ across the EU in the achievement of sustainable food value chains.

Andy Bleasdale

Andy works in the Scientific Unit of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and has a particular interest in the potential of farming to enhance biodiversity in an Irish setting.  He has had an active involvement in the commonage framework planning process, the NPWS farm plan scheme, BurrenLIFE and successor programmes, AranLIFE, RBAPS and INTERREG VA and he is an advocate of approaches to incentivise farmers to improve the status of habitats and species.

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.

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.

John Finn

John is a Research Officer in farmland ecology and biodiversity with Teagasc.  His research interests include farmland ecology, sustainable agriculture, multispecies mixtures, and High Nature Value farming systems.   His current projects are: Identifying the Distribution and Extent of Agricultural Land of High Nature Value; Development and application of a farm-scale indicator for farmland biodiversity; Spatial distribution of rare Irish flora; Can multi-species agronomic grassland mixtures mitigate the effects of extreme climate events?; Agri-Food Graduate Development Programme; and the Biodiversity Working Group.

Liam Lysaght

Liam has been the Director of the National Biodiversity Data Centre since 2006.  The Data Centre manages data and information on Ireland’s biological diversity and tracks how biodiversity is changing.  Liam was previously employed as Wildlife Officer with the Heritage Council, during which time he worked on providing advice on agriculture, forestry and landuse policy and its impacts on the natural heritage.   Prior to that he served as Park Ranger for the Burren and Connemara National Parks.  He is a Trustee of The Vincent Wildlife Trust and Head of Delegation for Ireland to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.


Maura Farrell

Maura is currently a full time lecturer in the School of Geography and Archaeology in NUI Galway.  Maura’s teaching reflects her research specialism which revolves around Rural and Agricultural Geography and her interests focus around processes of social, cultural and economic change for rural inhabitants.   Dr Farrell successfully led NUI Galway’s bid to run Ireland’s National Rural Network in conjunction with three other national partners. The National Rural Network is highly significant as the Department of Agriculture’s dissemination ‘vehicle’ for the national Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020.  Dr Farrell also holds appointments by the Minister for Rural and Community Development to the Monitoring Committee for the Action Plan for Rural Development and by DG-AGRI to an evaluation and reflection group for the LEADER Programme.  Maura was also appointed as evaluator by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture.

Michael Davoren

Michael is a first and foremost a farmer.  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 Life Project and is a Director of the Burrenbeo Trust.

Michael Maloney

Michael Maloney is the Director of Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme.

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