The national Farming For Nature (FFN) initiative has announced its first cohort of seven ambassadors for 2021.

The campaign is encouraging members of the public to view a series of specially-commissioned short films, which provide an insight to these farmers and their work.

Now in its fourth year, FFN was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their family.

Nominations are sought annually from a broad panel of environmental experts and through a rigorous system of interviews, farm visits and assessments by a panel of judges; 23 of these farmers were selected as ambassadors in 2021.

2021 Farming for Nature ambassadors

This year’s ambassadors come from across Ireland and include beef, sheep, horticulture and tillage farmers, who manage a wide range of habitats including grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.

The ambassador network is made up of family farms, couples, and both male and female farmers.

Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, founder and volunteer with Farming for Nature said: “This year’s farming for nature ambassadors are, like their predecessors, just so engaging and inspirational.

“They provide a powerful and timely testimony as to how farming and nature can, and must, work in harmony – and that simple actions can make a big difference.

“These farmers deserve our respect, gratitude and support. They embody all that’s great about rural Ireland and they offer great hope at a time of climate and biodiversity crises.”

Project coordinator Brigid Barry added: “We are delighted to have Farming for Nature Ambassadors this year.

“From Donegal to Wexford, Meath to Cork, from organic to conventional, from beef to forestry, tillage to mixed farming systems, each with so much to share on how to farming alongside nature. 

“We would really encourage the public to view their stories to get a flavour of what Farming for Nature is all about, and also to vote for their favourite ‘story’.

“I think every farmer in Ireland will be able to relate to at least one of these stories and learn a little something. We also hope to organise Q&As with these farmers and educational walks on these farms in 2022,” she added.

Burren event

The seven ambassadors will be featured at the annual Burren Winterage Weekend in October, when the winner of the public vote will also be announced.

16 additional ambassadors will be announced and profiled over the coming months, joining a network of 43 ambassadors from 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM); National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Rural Network.

The deadline for 2021 voting is midnight on Friday, October 22, 2021.