RSPB NI host ‘Save our Wild Isles: Food and Farming’ Conference

A one-day conference hosted by RSPB NI, Queen’s University and The National Trust will bring together farmers, industry, academics, conservationists, and policymakers to discuss the role of agricultural policy reform, in the context of the nature and climate crisis and multiple land use related challenges, such as the rising cost of food and energy.
Tom Heap will host the eventTom Heap will host the event
Tom Heap will host the event

Building on the momentum of BBC One’s inspirational Wild Isles TV show which aired earlier this year, the event will showcase the ‘Save our Wild Isles’ farming film ‘Hungry for Change’ which explores how together, we can create a nature positive food and farming system that is good for people, nature, and climate.

Nigel Scollan, Director, Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast: “We are facing a perfect storm, in terms of rising costs of living and inflating food prices, increased energy and agriculture-input costs, as well as changing weather patterns resulting from climate change and the ongoing depletion of our natural environment.

"We are delighted to host this conference in partnership with RSPB NI and National Trust which will bring together stakeholders in Northern Ireland at a key moment to discuss the role of agricultural policy reform, in the context of the nature and climate crisis and multiple land-use related challenges and the need to enhance food security.”

 The agriculture sector is facing many challenges from the increasing negative impacts of climate change, supply chain inequality and farm income vulnerabilities such as rising costs of fertiliser and feed.

These pressures will make adapting to meet the demands of the Climate Change act (Northern Ireland) 2022 and the Green Growth Strategy more challenging without robust policy reform, and a sustainable and just transition.

John Martin, Head of Policy and Advocacy, RSPB NI said: “The agriculture sector has a major role to play in managing our land sustainably and leading our response to the climate and nature crisis.

"However, without fundamental reform of agriculture policy, we will continue to drive unsustainable land management which will reinforce many problems around food security, nature depletion and climate change. This conference is an exciting opportunity to hear from several projects which evidence the need for change and identify opportunities to do things differently.”

The conference, which is being held at Riddel Hall, Belfast will be hosted by broadcaster Tom Heap, a long-time host of the Radio 4 environment series and podcast ‘Costing the Earth’ and featured regularly on BBC One’s Countryfile.

In the last year, Tom has devised and presented ‘The Climate Show with Tom Heap’ on Sky News and YouTube. Tom is the creator of the climate change solutions radio series ’39 Ways to Save the Planet’ and author of the accompanying book.

Tom spent many years at BBC News becoming both ‘Science and Environment’ Correspondent and ‘Rural Affairs Correspondent’ and brings a wealth of knowledge and insight as host of the event.

Throughout the event, speakers from across the sectors will bring their expertise and valuable insights to the discussion.

Notable speakers include: David Brown, UFU President; Joe McDonald, Asda; Mike Johnston, Dairy Council; Neville Graham, Dale Farm; John Martin, RSPB NI; Phil Carson, Tim Morrow and Stephen Alexander (all Nature Friendly Farming Network); David Chestnutt, Glanbia; David Stewart, Lakeland; Alison Holt, Nature Capital Solutions; Elizabeth Magowan, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute; Dustin Benton, Green Alliance and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The ‘Save Our Wild Isles: Food and Farming’ Conference promises to be an enlightening and influential event, providing a platform for meaningful discussions and the exchange of ideas among key stakeholders. By bringing together diverse perspectives, the conference aims to drive positive change, shaping the future of agriculture in Northern Ireland.

While admission to the event is free, please register your attendance here: