Mourne Young Farmers Club has been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Eco Club Award through Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Program. They were presented with their Flag by Orlagh McNeill, Project Officer – YFCU – Grassroots Challenge and Charlene McKeown from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
Mourne YFC have excelled in biodiversity throughout their bronze, silver and green award journey. Mourne YFC educated their members about the importance of biodiversity and took steps to create habitat for biodiversity and improve the natural environment. This included working with Mourne Heritage Trust on Slieve Binnian where they put coils in water tracks to stop the water carrying the peat down the mountain, therefore allowing it to build back up again. Peatlands are a really important habitat for biodiversity and very important carbon sinks so this work is really valuable.
In addition, Mourne YFC members planted wildflowers, planted trees and created nest boxes for barn owls which can help to control rodents on the farm as well making feeders for red squirrels and planters for pollinators.
As the club is local to the sea, Mourne YFC also tasked the members with learning more about the marine environment and took part in events such as a night time rock pool ramble as well as visiting Rathlin to learn more about the marine wildlife and its importance.
Commenting on the Award, Alexey Janes – Co-ordinator of the Grassroots Challenge at Ulster Wildlife, said "I am so pleased to be congratulating Mourne YFC today on this exceptional achievement. What makes today extra special is that despite being a fairly new and small club, Mourne YFC was the first to really embrace the Eco Club Award Scheme. They were the first YFC in Northern Ireland to achieve the Bronze section back in 2017. Thanks must go to our partners at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful who administer the Eco Club Award scheme and to our funders the National Lottery Community Fund and Our Bright Future programme. Thanks are also due to Project Officer Andrew Gracey who visited Mourne YFC on many occasions over the last few years and more recently to staff member Orlagh McNeil who has supported the club through the final stages of the Green Award. Caring for wildlife and the environment and taking action in response to climate change is something we all need to do. Mourne YFC have led by example and as a result encouraged others to do the same”.
Photo caption: Presenting Mourne YFC with the Green Flag award. Left to right (Orlagh McNeill, Project Officer – YFCU – Grassroots Challenge, Mourne YFC members and Charlene McKeown from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.)