Catchment News

Farming for Nature: improving the natural health of our countryside

The Farming for Nature initiative seeks to acknowledge and support those farmers who farm, or wish to farm, in a way that will improve the natural health of our countryside.

Farming for Nature is an independent, not-for-profit initiative which aims to support High Nature Value (HNV) farming in Ireland. It was established in 2018. Much of the impetus for Farming for Nature came from our experience of working with farmers in the Burren region, western Ireland. This convinced us of the enthusiasm of many farmers to look after their heritage if given the right financial incentives, technical support and encouragement – the pocket, head and heart as we say.

During this time, we also witnessed the power of partnership in achieving what are, ultimately, common goals – indeed we are delighted to welcome many of these partners – agricultural and environmental – in supporting this initiative. The Farming for Nature project started with a national award.

The main purpose of this award was to unearth and to share the stories of farmers across Ireland who are making a positive difference to nature on their farms and in their communities. We want to show that farmers are a part of nature and not apart from it, and we want to use these positive testimonies to encourage others to follow suit. We want to show that farming for nature can also be agriculturally, economically and socially progressive.

Storytelling alone won’t solve all of our challenges. So we are currently looking at developing our resources, our outreach and expanding our network. We hope to use our website and other media to promote and share some of the exciting emerging initiatives and technical innovations taking place in this field in Ireland today, for example our locally-led European Innovation Partnerships and our Results-based Agri-environmental programmes.

There is widespread awareness of the environmental damage that can be caused by the wrong type of farming. We hear about it all the time. There isn’t as much discussion of those that are doing a great job farming for nature, about the positive stories, meaning we don’t have many good role models. This negative narrative can alienate farmers from nature, making them feel apart from it rather than part of it. Encouraging farmers to feel that they are part of the solution, not just the problem, is the first step in a long journey which will require a lot of financial and technical support, new partnerships and new visions. The work of Farming for Nature can hopefully be the start.

Learn more:

www.farmingfornature.ie

Farming for Nature farm walks: The BRIDE Project

Farming for Nature farm walks: McCall’s Farm, Calverstown, County Kildare

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our waterbodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office.

LAWCO

Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.

DECLG

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.