Working with nature for the betterment of all

COMMITTED TO GIVING NATURE A HEPING HAND: Castlelyons dairy farmer, Donal Sheehan - a strong advocate of a new initiative which encourages farmers to provide a designated habitat for wildlife and plants. (John Ahern)

Operating in a market economy, farmers must be hard headed business people if they are to turn a profit.

Hard headed and often vocal, Irish farmers are also well informed and open minded when it comes to their chosen profession.

With this in mind, landowners in east Cork are being offered an opportunity to slightly modify their farming practices with a view to giving nature a helping hand.

This is the background to B.R.I.D.E. (Biodiversity Regeneration In A Dairying Environment) – a project that’s seeking to reward farmers for setting aside modest plots of land which will serve as a protected habitat for plants and wildlife.

Undoubtedly, a ‘green’ plan, the project is fully endorsed at national and European level. Critically, it has also received enthusiastic backing from trusted names such as: ‘Teagasc’, ‘Bord Bia’, ‘Glanbia’ and ‘Kepak’.

Speaking to The Avondhu in advance of a public B.R.I.D.E meeting, Castlelyons dairy farmer, Donal Sheehan, said the project was a combination of sound environmental practice and good business sense.

“There will always be a certain amount of scepticism about any new initiative, however, once the concept is explained, I feel farmers will see the merits of working with and farming with nature. Farmers must see themselves as more than food producers, they are custodians of the countryside whose actions can impact positively or negatively on a variety of plants and wildlife. Given time, this programme has the potential to deliver financially for farmers while also increasing biodiversity” Donal says.

Not overly concerned about being described as a ‘birds and bees man’, Donal is steadfast in his belief that productive and profitable farming is compatible with practices that give nature a helping hand.

“B.R.I.D.E. is about striking a balance, we’re not talking about huge tracts of lands, we’re thinking in terms of utilising hedgerows, woodland, ponds and field margins and getting farmers to buy in to an initiative that will benefit them and their environment in the long term” he says.

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