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Insights from the recent Talking Timber event

Insights from the recent Talking Timber event

There was great interest in 'Talking Timber 2024', held recently in the Great National Ballykisteen Golf Hotel, Limerick Junction, Co Tipperary. Michael Somers tells us about what happened at the event.

Organised by Teagasc, in association with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Forest Industries Ireland (FII), Talking Timber attracted almost 300 forest owners, gaining insights into how to best manage their forest and to be market-ready, taking advantage of an anticipated increase in timber prices.

This year's event theme was "Know Your Forest," focusing on the quantification and financial planning of farm forest resources. The event was chaired by John Spink, Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme. The forest industry strongly supported the event, with 25 trade stands showcasing a range of service providers.

In his opening address, Paul Savage, Assistant Secretary General, Forestry, Agri Environment, and on-farm investment, with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, outlined the wide range of support under the new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme. He also outlined how a Forest Management Plan initiative will be launched later this year to assist forest owners with certification and to facilitate licence applications. 

Forest owners had ample networking opportunities with timber buyers, harvesting contractors, foresters and other service providers across the sector. This was followed by the popular outdoor demonstration facilitated by Glennon Brothers (representing FII), where attendees could view log samples and end-use products and discuss the quality of timber required by Irish sawmills.

During the discussions at the outdoor log and timber products display, Gerry Dolan from Glennon Brothers’ Sawmills highlighted the excellent opportunities available for owners with well-managed, high-quality forests. A key message was that straighter trees and logs offer a wide range of timber use options, especially at the later thinning stage or the final crop.

Speakers at the indoor conference included Michael Somers, Teagasc forester, who stressed the importance of owners getting to know their forest and planning harvesting in good time. He referred to the range of useful insights within the Teagasc publication 'Harvesting and Selling Timber from Conifer Forests, a Step-by-Step Guide for Forest Owners.' He also outlined the range of supports available to forest owners from Teagasc Forestry Department staff. 

Ciaran Nugent, DAFM Regional Forestry Inspector, outlined the many benefits of well-planned forest roads in his presentation. He covered the opportunities, improvements, and innovative elements within the new Forest Roads Scheme to support sustainable timber mobilisation.

Dr. Máirtín Mac Siúrtáin, Emeritus Professor of Forestry at UCD, emphasised the importance of inventory plots in forests, stressing that “knowledge is power”. He outlined how valuable measurements can easily be attained within the forest, putting forest owners in a position of strength and allowing them to plan and prepare for harvesting and timber marketing.

Tim Ryan from IFAC Accountants covered the benefits and efficiencies available through appropriate and timely tax planning. In a detailed presentation, he described the income efficiencies of an on-farm forest crop from a tax and potential wealth transfer perspective. 

Forest owner Michael Ryan, from South Tipperary, gave frank insights of his experiences in managing and harvesting his forests, covering both the challenges and opportunities. Maintaining an active interest in his forest and taking a hands-on approach to its management paid dividends for Michael.

In his closing remarks, Donal Mullane, Teagasc regional manager for Tipperary, encouraged attendees to take advantage of the excellent opportunities for networking and knowledge sharing on forestry matters. He emphasised Teagasc’s ongoing commitment to support owners in optimising the sustainability and value of their forests. 

Overall feedback from both forest owners and industry representatives about the event was positive. Presentations given on the day will be made available on www.teagasc.ie/forestry.

Photo: Speakers/presenters at the recent highly popular Teagasc/DAFM “Talking Timber” event which took place at the Great National Ballykisteen Golf Hotel on March 14, 2024 (L-r): Michael Ryan - Forest Owner, Tim Ryan – IFAC Accountants,  Donal Mullane - Teagasc Regional Manager, Ciaran Nugent – Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Regional Inspector, Dr. Máirtín Mac Siúrtáin, Emeritus Professor of Forestry, UCD and TMMV Ltd, DAFM John Spink – Head of Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme and chair of event, Tom Houlihan – Acting Head of the Forestry Development Department, Gerry Dolan- Glennon Brothers’ Sawmills/Forestry Industries Ireland, and Michael Somers- Teagasc Forestry Advisor and event organiser.