The 2020 National Farming For Nature Ambassador Awards was held on Saturday night. Now in its 3rd year, the awards recognised eight outstanding examples of how farming can have a positive impact on our biodiversity and climate. President Higgins wrote to the Farmers ahead of the awards and stressed their importance in addressing biodiversity and climate crises “Your efforts represent real and tangible forms of active citizenship, contributing to social betterment in so many communities across the country, taking action on crucial ecological issues in order to make a real difference” These Ambassadors operate beef, sheep, horticultural and tillage systems and worked with a range of valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows. Each one represents an inspiring story around managing this land in a way that sustains nature while remaining productive.
Farming For Nature Co-ordinator Brigid Barry says that ‘I think every farmer in Ireland will be able to relate to at least one of these farmers and admire what they have managed to achieve on their farms. We commissioned a short film on each one of these farms so that the public could learn more about farming for nature and also choose their favourite story. We had an outstanding response with thousands of votes cast in the last few weeks. The winner of this Public’s Choice Award was Clare farmer Jim Cronin from Bridgetown in East Clare. Jim has, for many years, been an inspiration to farmers far and wide and he is a very worthy winner, he is a great example of just how much nature you can support on a small holding whilst also having a viable family business’.
The Minister of Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, joined the virtual event to present the Ambassadors with their awards and announce the public choice winner. A farmer herself, the Minister said that “I would like to warmly congratulate Jim Cronin from Co. Clare who is the winner of the People’s Choice Award at this year’s annual Farming for Nature awards. Like all eight of these progressive Farming for Nature ambassadors, Jim has shown how farmers can work with nature and continue to produce high quality food while ensuring the economic viability of their enterprises.”
One of the drivers behind the initiative, Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, said that ‘the stories told by these 8 ambassadors are so educational and inspirational. Their knowledge, passion and eloquence shines through, providing powerful testimony as to how farming and nature can, and must, work in harmony. The work of these ambassadors demonstrates that simple actions can make a big difference for the wellbeing of nature and of people and will hopefully inspire other farmers to take some small steps to look after their farm’s wildlife. We felt that these farmers are deserving of respect and support through these awards: they embody all that’s great about rural Ireland’
The National Farming for Nature Ambassador Awards is sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.