The 2021 National Farming For Nature Ambassador Awards was held last Saturday night (October 23) as part of the annual Burren Winterage Weekend.
Now in its fourth year, the annual awards welcomed 23 new ambassadors to the Farming for Nature (FFN) network and profiled seven outstanding examples of farmers who are doing valuable work for nature on their land.
The ambassadors operate beef, poultry, forestry and tillage systems and work with a range of valuable habitats including grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.
FFN coordinator, Brigid Barry said: ‘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 video views and thousands of votes cast in the last few weeks.”
The winners of this year’s Public Choice Award are Michael and Norman Dunne from Owenstown, Co. Kildare.
Over the past number of years, the father-son duo have been gradually moving away from an intensive tillage operation to a regenerative farming system, operating under the principles of conservation agriculture.
Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, founder and volunteer with FFN 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,” he added.
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 Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Rural Network.