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.
Farming for Nature farm walks: The BRIDE Project
Farming for Nature farm walks: McCall’s Farm, Calverstown, County Kildare