A Farming for Nature (FFN) ambassador in Co. Mayo is set to host a walk on his lands this weekend.

Colm Gavin is an eighth-generation farmer in the Bundorragha area where he keeps up to 100 Mayo blackface ewes.

The sheep are out on the mountain year-round, grazing the multi-species natural vegetation and maintaining the land.

Colm operates a very extensive hill-farming operation and very few external inputs are required on the farm.

Colm Gavin. Image: Farming for Nature

The Co. Mayo man is also part of the Pearl Mussel Project (PMP) European Innovation Partnership (EIP).

It rewards participant farmers for the ecological quality of their land, which in turn contributes to the pristine water quality needed by the freshwater pearl mussel.

The animals are extremely long lived and are capable of surviving for up to 140 years, making them Ireland’s longest-living animal.

As part of his work with this project, Colm continues to remove invasive rhododendron from the mountain, as well as installing silt traps to capture excess sand/silt run-off from the land before it enters the river.

Freshwater Pearl Mussel
Freshwater Pearl Mussel: Image source: Dr. Patrick Crushell

He has also put in livestock bridges at various points along the river to further protect the water quality.

“Being part of the PMP EIP puts value on land that we wouldn’t have considered highly valuable in the past. These areas have actually turned out to be the most important areas on the farm in terms of biodiversity,” the farmer said.

Colm has a great passion for the landscape and nature that makes up his farm and views himself as a “caretaker of the land”.

The farmer is hoping to pass the land on to the next generation in better condition than which he found it.

“As a hill farmer, all you’re doing is maintaining the land,” he said.

As part of a series of farm walks hosted by FFN ambassadors, Colm will welcome visitors to his holding tomorrow (Sunday, September 18) from 11:00a.m.

The walks are an opportunity for farmers taking part in the programme to showcase their contribution to nature and good farming practices on their land.

FFN said that all monies received through ticket sales will be circulated back into the farming community.