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Cavan farmer wins 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award

Cavan farmer Owen Cooney was recently announced by the RDS as the winner of the 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award. Owen was presented with his award by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett and RDS President Professor Owen Lewis. Owen

Owen Cooney is pictured above with Noel Kennedy, Teagasc, Minister Pippa Hackett and RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis farms 35 hectares in County Cavan. In recent years, he moved from dairying into contract rearing of dairy calves. He has been planting and managing trees and successfully integrating forestry into suitable areas of his farm over many years. With a mixture of both conifers and broadleaves, close to 30% of Owen’s farm is now under forestry. Combining his roles as farmer and forest owner has enabled Owen to develop an efficient management system that meets his objectives for his farm while also providing income, biodiversity, shelter and landscape benefits.

The RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award category aims to recognise excellence in sustainable use of land that incorporates both farming and forestry through the successful adoption of a whole farm planning approach. Owen was congratulated by Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara who said “the award acknowledges Owen’s role in achieving sustainable integration of his forestry and farming enterprises”. Professor O’Mara added: “Innovation and diversification are key tools to achieving farming sustainability and Owen is an excellent example of this. Teagasc is delighted to be associated with the RDS Forestry Awards through our sponsorship of the Farm Forestry Award Category.”

Owen was delighted to win the Teagasc farm forestry award and said that he always had a love for forestry and planting and it has helped him explore and develop other farming opportunities.

Cavan based Teagasc forestry advisor Kevin O’Connell was delighted that Owen’s commitment to forestry on his farm over many years has been recognised with the award. He said the forests Owen has planted on suitable ground are now generating income and providing wider environmental benefits while improving farm efficiency. 

RDS President, Professor J. Owen Lewis recognised the many economic, environmental and social benefits trees and forests provide. They bring colour and biodiversity to both our urban and rural areas. He siad 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, which remains the most important industry in rural Ireland.

Teagasc Forestry Advisor Noel Kennedy highlighted the opportunities arising from the effective integration of forestry stating “Actively managed farm forests play many critical roles – from income generation and protection of water quality to enhancing on-farm biodiversity and combatting climate change through carbon sequestration”.

Special Commendation Award

Westmeath farmer James Ham received the Special Commendation Award. 

James is pictured above with Noel Kennedy, Teagasc, Minister Pippa Hackett and RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis

For more information on all aspects of forest creation management and training visit www.teagasc.ie/forestry