Why a Festival of Farmland Biodiversity?

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is hosting a month-long (virtual) Festival of Farmland Biodiversity for May 2022.  The Festival of Farmland Biodiversity will focus on challenges to addressing the biodiversity crisis across much of the farmed landscape in Ireland.

The purpose of the festival is to encourage a more positive engagement around the topic of biodiversity and farmland, and to highlight some of the ways that farmers are working to support biodiversity on their farms.  The rationale for the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s approach is that if all farmers took some evidence-based actions to help biodiversity, no matter how small, the cumulative impact of these actions could address biodiversity loss in the Irish landscape.

Changing the narrative around farmland biodiversity

Biodiversity and how farmland is managed are closely linked.   Recent years have seen a reduction in the biodiversity value of farmland, and much of the variety and diversity which was once such a characteristic feature of the Irish countryside has been lost.   But the Irish farming community presents an opportunity for arresting this decline.   Farmers and their families can be a positive driver of change by ensuring that biodiversity features of value on their land are retained. These retained features could then be the basis upon which biodiversity enhancement measures could be delivered.    Ensuring there is diversity in the Irish landscape is one important contribution that the farming community can make, and are making, to building resilience to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

A framework for  biodiversity action

A diverse landscape supporting biodiversity can be achieved by adopting a four-stage process for action:

  1. Retain existing biodiversity-friendly areas.
  2. Maintain existing areas through positive biodiversity-friendly management.
  3. Restore areas that once provided support for biodiversity.
  4. Create new biodiversity-friendly areas to enhance its biodiversity value.

The possibilities for transformative change where farmers across the island of Ireland take small and large actions on their farm to help biodiversity are enormous.   We know from the science what works for biodiversity, and for many aspects of biodiversity a lot of small actions can deliver surprisingly successful results.   We are seeking the help of the farming community to deliver this transformative change by taking actions for biodiversity.

As a first step in this process, we want to highlight some of the biodiversity associated with farmland, help farmers to become more aware of what they have through surveying and monitoring biodiversity, and to highlight the actions that they can take on their farm to help biodiversity.    Many farmers are already doing a great deal to help biodiversity, so we want to profile some of these activities.  We are encouraging farmers to share with us their experiences and knowledge, and to show that helping biodiversity on their farm is an achievable objective.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre provides many supports to encourage people to get more involved in biodiversity recording and surveys.   During May, the Centre will be profiling some of the surveys and recording initiatives to provide opportunities for farmers and their families to get involved.   Already many farmers are involved in these schemes, but we would like to grow the network.

What will it involve?

The month-long festival will involve:

  • Sharing advice on evidence-based actions on farmland to help biodiversity
  • Highlighting seasonal actions for pollinators on farmland
  • Videos highlighting actions farmers have taken to help pollinators for the Protecting Farmland Pollinators EIP project
  • Sharing examples of actions farmers have taken to help biodiversity
  • Highlighting the value of wetlands for biodiversity
  • Highlighting the threat posed by invasive alien species
  • Profiling species that occur on farmland
  • On-line ‘How well do you know your biodiversity’ quiz
  • On-line course to learn how to identify aspects of biodiversity on farmland
  • Getting farmers involved in biodiversity surveying and monitoring

Our hope for the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity is that it will provide a vehicle for more positive engagement and learning around farmland biodiversity and result in a fresh impetus to address biodiversity decline in the wider countryside.

Calling all farmers!  Would you like a biodiversity audit of your farm?

We want to hear from farmers who are already taking actions to help biodiversity on their farms.   For the duration of the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity any farmer who shares an example of an action they have taken on their farm to help biodiversity using #FarmlandBiodiversity will be entered into a draw for the staff of the National Biodiversity Data Centre to visit and carry out a biodiversity survey of their farm.    This is a unique opportunity to have an inventory of the biodiversity of your farm compiled, so please get involved.

What would we like from your organisation?

We are hoping that our partners will come on board and help to promote the month-long initiative.   Participation is easy.   It requires organisations to promote some of the farmland biodiversity work they are already doing through social media using #FarmlandBiodiversity.   The National Biodiversity Data Centre can provide the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity logo for use by all participants.

The Festival of Farmland Biodiversity will run from 1st to 31st May.   The National Biodiversity Data Centre will begin to promote the festival during the last week of April.   If your organisation was happy to promote the event, it would be great if we could add your name to the list of supporters of the initiative.

 Are there any actions or initiatives that your organisation is taking to address biodiversity loss on farmland that you would like to highlight?   Now is your opportunity.   Just use #FarmlandBiodivesity!

Further details of the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity can be found at: