Castlelyons farmer Donal Sheehan is set to receive an award in this year's annual Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) annual Environmental awards. 

The dairy farmer and nature-lover uses a variety of measures to make his farm more sustainable, including rainwater harvesting and allowing hedgerows and plants favoured by pollinators and birds, to grow.

At a survey conducted in the summer, 35 wild breeding species were identified on his farm, inlcuding five species of bats.

CEF's annual awards have been held for the past 16 years and honour local "environmental heroes" in a range of categories, including Public Sector, Business and Commercial Sector, Community & Voluntary Sector and Individuals.

This year the awards, which will be held on the 4th of December in the Firkin Crane Theatre in Cork City, will also pilot a new agricultural category and Donal, as well as Drimoleague's Alan Kingston who has been developing eco-friendly agroforestry, will scoop pioneering awards, with a view to CEF accepting nominations in future years.  

"I'm chuffed to bits," Donal said. "It's great to be recognised by an environmental organisation; maybe we are making a little difference, to someone."

Donal gives farm walks to local schools on the 85 acres of land that he works on the outskirts of Castlelyons. "We try to raise awareness by letting people know what they can do," he said.

Donal believes that for sustainability to truly become a focus on Irish farms, there'll need to be changes to government policy.  

"When the consumer pays for a litre of milk or a kilo of cereal, there's currently no incentive to the farmer to produce that as sustainably as possible," he said. "There's no incentive for enhancing the environment; it's not factored in to the price."