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18/09/2021

Longford Leader Farming: Ballymahon farmer announced as Farming for Nature Ambassador

Noel Kiernan

Ballymahon’s Noel Kiernan has been chosen as a ‘Farming for Nature Ambassador for 2021’

Ballymahon’s Noel Kiernan has been chosen as a ‘Farming for Nature Ambassador for 2021’.

Noel is one of seven Ambassadors chosen for the 2021 Farming for Nature (FFN) public vote awards.

Now in its fourth year, Farming For Nature (FFN, www.farmingfornature.ie) was set up with an aim to source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature, while providing a livelihood for their family.

This year’s ambassadors come from right across Ireland and include beef, poultry, forestry, horticulture and tillage farmers who manage a wide range of very valuable habitats including species-rich grasslands and heaths, wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.

The public are invited to vote for their favourite ambassador by visiting www.farmingfornature.ie

You can learn more about each ambassador by viewing a series of specially-commissioned short films which provide an insight into these farmers and their inspiring work.

Noel Kiernan farms 250 acres of mixed land and habitat – there is forestry, marsh, bogland, permanent pasture and hay meadows. He is passionate about conservation in all forms – from native flora and fauna, to native Irish livestock breeds.

He farms and breeds from Roscommon sheep and Bo Riacht cattle – playing a crucial role in ensuring the vitality of these old Irish breeds. He also keeps Connemara ponies. The animals are a crucial element of Noel's farming system as they graze the pasture and produce manure which fertilizes the soil.

He said, “Grazing is very important for certain rare species, such as curlew, corncrake, lapwing, skylark and other ground nesting birds, as well as flora like orchids.

All those species have followed us as farmers through the ages and they have benefited from our farming activity. Now, the lack of that type of traditional farming activity means that many of those species will be in trouble because they won’t have suitable habitats.”

Noel is a forester as well as a farmer and he is passionate about combining forestry and farming, as he believes these practices can be mutually beneficial when managed sustainably.

There are 100 acres of native broadleaf forestry on the land, this maintains native species of flora and fauna and encourages as much wildlife to the farm as possible. Noel runs a continuous forest cover system, meaning anywhere a tree is cut then another one is planted in its place.

The farm, also referred to as “Noel’s Ark”, holds an impressive array of habitats and wildlife, including but not limited to amphibians, lizards, pine martens, kingfishers, woodcocks, blackcaps, skylarks, marsh fritillary butterflies and various bee species.

For years, Noel has dedicated his time and his land to farming in ways that protect and enhance biodiversity – “my farm is open to whatever birds want to come in.”

The Farming for Nature Awards are sponsored by Bord Bia and supported by a wide range of farming and conservation interests including the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Rural Network.

The deadline for 2021 voting is midnight Friday, October 22, 2021.

For more information go to www.farmingfornature.ie or contact info@farmingfornature.ie

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