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2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Awards

The RDS Forest and Woodland Awards are Ireland’s national forestry awards. They recognise and reward farmers and woodland owners who are employing the principles of climate-smart agriculture on their properties including sound commercial management, environmental protection and encouragement of biodiversity. 

Teagasc Farm Forestry Award Category

The Teagasc Farm Forestry Award recognises working farmers who are integrating forestry and farming for environmental, social and economic benefits.

This category aims to promote the positive sustainable contribution of forestry as an integral enterprise within the wider farming profile. It acknowledges the farmer’s role in actively integrating and managing the forest and promoting tree planting to strengthen wider farming sustainability.

Winner of 2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award announced

Teagasc welcomes the announcement by the Royal Dublin Society that the winner of the 2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award is Cavan farmer Cathal Rudden.

Cathal was presented with his award in Dublin today, Friday, 6 May by Teagasc Director Professor Frank O’Mara and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett.

Receiving the Special Commendation Award in the 2022 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Category are Cork farmers Willie and Avril Allshire.

Farming 48 hectares in Stradone, Co Cavan, Cathal Rudden manages a suckler herd and a substantial young forestry enterprise. In 2014, Cathal decided to plant mainly for economic reasons identifying forestry as a steady and reliable income stream providing him with security to plan and manage the rest of his farm enterprise. Today, half of Cathal’s farm is planted with a highly productive mix of Sitka Spruce and Oak, which he manages as a good, long-term economic and environmental investment for him and his family.

On receiving his award Cathal Rudden said, “I am surprised and delighted to win the RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award and would like to thank my wife and my family for their support. Also my local Teagasc forestry adviser Kevin O’Connell for his advice and support.”

Congratulating Cathal Rudden, Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara, highlighted how “the award acknowledges Cathal’s role in future-proofing his family farm through the sustainable integration of his forestry and farming enterprises”. Professor O’Mara added, “with many challenges facing farming, farmers need to forward plan and consider how to innovate and the role that diversification could play on their farm. Cathal is an excellent example of a farmer at the forefront of the economic and environmental sustainability of Irish Agriculture. Teagasc is delighted to be associated with the RDS Forestry Awards through our sponsorship of the Farm Forestry Award Category.”

Runners-up Willie and Avril Allshire, of Caherbeg Free Range Pork, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork are a great example of the diversity of activity that can exist on one farm. When they purchased their farm in 1997 there were almost no trees to speak of on the land. They immediately set about planting trees, as not only was it something they were passionate about, and appreciated from an aesthetic point of view, but they also noted that the land would be unsuitable for other types of agriculture.

As well as providing an environmental benefit through carbon capture and offsetting of emissions, the trees also provide economic benefits through the selling of timber and providing fuel to heat their buildings. In addition to owning the oldest Irish herd of Free-Range Outdoor pigs in the country and developing the Caherbeg brand, they also have an on-site meat processing unit and an on-site firewood processing unit. They are also involved in developing on-farm tourism opportunities and Avril is one of the farmers involved in West Cork Farm Tours.

According to RDS President, Professor J. Owen Lewis, “It is more important than ever to recognise the work of our farmers and foresters who are contributing to the sustainable development of Irish agriculture. This year’s award winners have achieved a balance between the economic and environmental needs of the sector and are highlighting what is possible when experience is combined with innovation and dedication.”

In highlighting how farms and forests can work so well together, Noel Kennedy, Teagasc Forestry Advisor said: “Forward planning and active management are key ingredients for farmers to get the most from integrating farming and forestry. Improved shelter, extended grass growing season, enhanced biodiversity and protection of water quality – not to mention timber production and carbon sequestration can all be achieved and are at the heart of the RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award”.

Ballyhaise-based Teagasc forestry advisor Kevin O’Connell said, “This award is well deserved and reflects Cathal’s commitment to his farming and forestry complementing each other. Cathal is also building his forestry knowledge and willing to share his own experience as a farmer forester through his active involvement with the North East Forest Owners Group. His success is a great example for others to aspire to.”