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Launched this week at the Dairy Symposium, 22nd November, the first-of-their-kind guidelines in Northern Ireland provide a comprehensive roadmap towards nature friendly farming practices within the dairy industry.
With a network of over 3,000 farms, the dairy sector commands a substantial portion of Northern Ireland's agricultural land, providing a unique opportunity to champion nature-friendly initiatives. This is the first time that RSPB NI has worked with the dairy sector in Northern Ireland in a formal partnership, undertaking a series of farming workshops and testing on five representative dairy farms to outline a comprehensive menu of practical measures which can be taken to support nature positive farming.
Ian Stevenson, Chief Executive of the Dairy Council Northern Ireland said, ‘’The Dairy Council has been working with RSPB NI over the last year, to develop these guidelines for farmers. By identifying what farmers are already doing, a series of practical measures have been developed, to allow farmers to enhance biodiversity on their land, creating positives for both the farm and the environment, which is the bottom line at the end of the day.’’
Dr Jonathan Bell, Head of Land and Sea Policy at RSPB NI commented, “This work has been well-received by the dairy industry and farmers, who want to take steps towards managing their farms better for nature. The project has helped identify what is possible, even on our most intensively farmed land; a set of practical actions all dairy farms can take to help turn the tide on nature’s decline. We believe, with the right policy tools and financial support, the dairy industry can become leaders in Nature Positive practises.”
One of the participating farmers, Drew McConnell said “Being involved in the whole process has been a game-changer for me. The involvement of RSPB NI and the project partners has given me a real understanding of what's living and growing on my farm and how we can make things better for both our land and wildlife that call it home.”
Drew continues “Farmers like us, we're ready to roll up our sleeves and do our part to bring nature back into our farms. But we can't do it alone; we need the government's support to make these changes on a big scale.’’ To learn more, download our Nature-Positive dairy farming Guide
Hear from Jonathan, RSPB NI Head of Land & Sea Policy and Ian, Chief Executive from the Dairy council for Northern Ireland.