Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) re-commence
Field trips are so beneficial and it’s great to see forest owners learn about Basal Area, taking top height and calculating stems/hectare among many other skills, all relatable to their own crop. John Casey, Teagasc forestry development officer talks about the benefits of being in a discussion group
In March 2022, the re-opening of the Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group (KTG) Scheme was announced. Knowledge transfer groups are a well-established method of sharing knowledge and best practice in the agricultural & land use sector.
The forestry KTG scheme provides a very useful opportunity for forest owners to gain additional knowledge to help them manage their forests and by empowering them to maximise the value of their holding.
Group led by a professional forester
The KTGs are led by a professional forester, encouraging participants to engage with forestry groups and the overall forestry sector, including Teagasc forestry advisors, sawmills & others. Some of these KTGs are organised by registered foresters/ forestry companies, while others are organised under the auspices of forest owner groups e.g. the Forest Owner’s Co-operative Society (FOCS).
Image 1: FOCS KTG visit to Glennons sawmills in Fermoy, Co. Cork, with John Casey, Teagasc in the orange vest
Forest owners have the opportunity to learn from forestry experts
Forest owners have the opportunity to learn from forestry experts and, as importantly, from each other’s experiences within a discussion group setting, covering a range of topics including timber sales, forest certification, inventory, species diversity & environmental requirements. The KTGs operate with a bottom-up approach, with the participants themselves deciding on what it is they wish to learn. In addition, KTGs can be used as a vehicle to bring forest owners in contact with professional foresters.
Sarah Standish, Independent Forestry Ltd., is employed by FOCS to lead and to deliver a number of these KTGs. Sarah believes that “the Forestry KTG is a fantastic way for forest owners to get together and learn from their own experiences and share with others in the group. I feel my involvement as the facilitator is to educate and enlighten participants about the recent environmental changes that have been introduced across all licensing applications over the last two years”.
With background experience in Biodiversity, Ecology, GIS and Forestry, Sarah encourages biodiversity and Forest Certification awareness through all her meetings. She has found that KTG participants have a keen interest in the current biodiversity crisis and want to do their part in protecting and increasing biodiversity within their own forest, mitigating against climate change while also increasing the value of their forest resource.
Image 2: Sarah Standish discussing the safety features of chainsaws with a KTG
Sarah sees participant involvement as key to any learning and that it is her role to keep conversations going by encouraging forest topics and ask group questions. Most participants like to be aware of each forest topic and where possible she changes the theme half way through the meeting to maintain interest and diversity. Similarly, Teagasc foresters encourage participants to consider how any learnings could be applied to their own forests.
Knowledge Transfer Group - Scheme payments and details
Each KTG can have a maximum of 20 participants and each participant needs to attend 7 meetings or outdoor events in order to complete the programme. KTG payments are broken down as follows:
- Each KTG participant receives €70 per meeting attended
- Each KTG organiser receives €6,500 per KTG organised
A total of 7 meetings and events are organised per KTG. The maximum payment to each participant is €490. Participants in the 2018, 2019, 2020/2021 Schemes are not permitted to join a KTG in 2022. Forest owners are encouraged to check for notices of KTGs organised in their locality.
Since the inception of the KTG Scheme four years ago, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has invested more than €1.3 million in knowledge transfer for forest owners, funding over 1,500 participants. It is widely recognised that both the private landowners’ and the State’s investment in creating new forests over the last 35 years will be fully realised through sustainable management of the forest resource.
Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups empowering forest owners
The mobilisation of timber will create economic activity along the supply chain through activities such as harvesting, transportation, replanting and processing. The Climate Action Plan 2021 describes afforestation as the single largest land-based climate change mitigation measure available to Ireland, while the sustainable management of our exiting forests provides opportunities to increase carbon stores. The shared goal of Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups is to empower owners, encouraging their active engagement with a valuable forest resource.
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