The Teagasc Forestry Development Unit
Name / Title
The Teagasc Forestry Development Unit
Case Study Region
West of Ireland Region
West of Ireland and Ireland in general.
Training scheme; government; advice service
Main activity / focus
The Teagasc Forestry Department provides advice, training and research on farm forestry and the related matters.
Target beneficiaries / market
Farmers and landowners with an interest in planting land for forestry or developing forestry related businesses.
Current Funding source(s)
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The Teagasc Forestry Development Unit is a sub-section of Teagasc – The Agriculture and Food Development Authority. Within the case study region there are two full-time forestry advisers – one responsible for the counties of Roscommon, Mayo and Leitrim South and one responsible for Galway and Clare. In addition to these full time advisers Teagasc also have forestry specialists that provide additional advice and information and a research officer that disseminates valuable research findings.
Teagasc is the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland with a mission to support science-based innovation in the agri-food sector and the broader bio-economy that will underpin profitability, competitiveness and sustainability. One of its subdivisions, The Teagasc Forestry Development Department, coordinates forestry advice, training and research in one development department to ensure greater consistency and synergy between the subdivisions. The Teagasc Forestry Department supports the notion that farm forestry is an ever expanding and developing sector in rural Ireland and as such it requires a concerted effort in relation to advice, training and research. Ireland currently consists of 310,000 hectares of private forest, primarily owned by farmers. The majority of this land has been planted since the late 1980s and as such farmers require advice and training in managing these crops. Additionally, to reach the Irish Government forestry target of 17% forestry cover before 2030 Teagasc Forestry Department works tirelessly to encourage land owners to consider farm forestry. Forestry advisory, promotional and training services are provided in conjunction with the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Teagasc have Forestry Development Officers and land use advisers employed in the West of Ireland dealing with the counties of Roscommon, Mayo and Galway. These advisers provide farmers and land owners with independent and objective advice on whether a farm forest enterprise will be appropriate in their circumstances. Farmers also receive advice and support in identifying the opportunities for wood energy development. Additionally, forestry advisory staff provides valuable inputs to Forestry Environmental Protection Scheme (FEPS); Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS); The Certificate in Forestry and the Advanced Certificate in Forestry. In addition to individual training and consultancy services Teagasc advisers carry out group training and advisory sessions which include farm forestry walks and forestry demonstrations.
As part of the Teagasc Forestry Department research is undertaken to support the developing farm forestry sector. Farmers are planting many broadleaves annually and a programme of research to improve the quality of these broadleaf crops is underway in Teagasc. Research on the genetic improvement of broadleaf species and on improved propagation techniques is ongoing. Additionally, research on appropriate silvicultural practices for the management of broadleaves is also under way. A research programme on thinning and harvesting technologies appropriate to the farm forestry sector has been initiated.
An excellent example of an advice and training demonstration was carried out recently in Bunnageddy Equestrian Centre, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. The event was organized and carried out by Teagasc in association with the Forest Service. The demonstration focused on planning and planting a farm forestry enterprise. Expert advice from Teagasc and the Forest Service was provided and a range of important issues from land suitability, grants and premium schemes, selecting the right trees, getting the ground preparation right, looking after the young trees and how forestry interacts with other farming schemes was comprehensively discussed and demonstrated. Information and advice was available for REPS farmers from the Afforestation Scheme to the FEPS scheme. This demonstration highlighted ground preparation, fencing, planting and protecting and enhancing the environment. In addition, there was a special focus on REPS tree and hedge planting measures with expert advice from Teagasc REPS staff. In Bunnageddy Equestrian Centre, a number of forestry companies and organisations had trade stands offering an extensive range of information on all aspects for forestry.
Teagasc advisers for the West of Ireland also carried out an excellent demonstration in Kilmurray Hall, Castleplunkett, Co. Roscommon in October 2010 regarding forestry thinning. Teagasc again in association with the Forestry Service held a demonstration of first thinning of conifers. During the demonstration, forestry growers were brought through the various steps involved in thinning a conifer forest. The importance of the provision of satisfactory access, knowing the condition of your forest, selling timber to the right buyer, the mechanics of the thinning operation and protecting the environment were some of the important issues discussed by professionals from Teagasc in addition to professionals from the Forest Service and Coillte.
Ms. Mary Ryan (Forestry Specialist)