The Teagasc Forestry Development Department, in association with the Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners and the Forest Service organised the Annual Forest Owner Groups Conference at the Ballykisteen Hotel, Limerick Junction, Co Tipperary last week, 8 October. Over two hundred forest owners, many with forests approaching thinning, attended. This reflects the major interest that now exists in bringing private woodlots to the marketplace.
Michael Somers, Teagasc and co-organiser of the conference said: “The conference provided an ideal forum for attendees to share experiences and acquire valuable information to help in their forest enterprise. The theme of this year’s event “Strength in Numbers” also reflected one of Teagasc’s objectives in promoting forest owner groups and encouraging active forest owner cooperation and participation.”
Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Head of Teagasc’s Forestry Development Department, paid tribute to the work carried out and progress achieved by forest owner groups to date. She noted that this was the fifth such event and during this time, the number of forest owner groups had grown from seven to twenty six groups spread throughout the country.
Michael Ryan, chairman of the Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners explained in his presentation what forest owner groups are all about: “Function of producer groups is to allow the owner to maintain control of their forests”.
Opening the Conference, Minister of State Tom Hayes TD noted the relevance of the topics for discussion at the Conference. He welcomed, in particular, the inclusion of a talk on ‘Safety in your Forest’, stating “We are all aware of the crucial importance of farm safety so I welcome the inclusion of this talk in relation to forests”. He concluded by encouraging the forest owners in attendance to make the most of the opportunity presented by the Conference to learn and to make contacts in the industry and among other owner groups.
There was strong interest in the second session of the conference, which covered topics now of major importance to many forest owners, including forest insurance and the tax implications associated with a forest enterprise. The interest was reflected in the wide ranging and informed questions and debate during the question and answer sessions that followed.
Most of the presentations from this year’s conference can be viewed on the Teagasc Forestry website.