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Minister Hayes Highlights Importance of Forest Owner Groups

Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today opened the Forest Owner Groups Conference 2013, hosted by the Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners Group, in Ballykisteen Hotel, Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary.

A number of forest owner groups have been formed throughout the country over the last number of years with the annual Forest Owners Conference, organised by Teagasc, providing an opportunity for such groups, and individual forest owners, to hear talks on topical issues such as thinning of forests, to share information and experiences and to put questions to industry experts in attendance. Opening the Conference, Minister Hayes, noting that forestry is a significant element within the Irish economy, generating approximately €2.2 billion in annual output and supporting thousands of jobs, added that “It should be recognised that the origin of our thriving forestry industry is in your decision as landowners to plant trees on your land. That decision alone is not the end of the story but only the start - as it is vitally important for you to maintain and develop your forestry crop and for your timber to enter the timber supply chain”.

In his speech, the Minister commented that “the full value of our timber, whether to the individual landowner or in terms of a national resource, can only be achieved if owners manage, thin and harvest their forestry crops in an appropriate and timely manner”, and added that he believes that Forest Owner Groups can play a significant role in this process.

Noting that there are currently 26 such groups throughout the country, at varying stages of development and with possibly different objectives, he mentioned that “the common theme is that they bring together forest owners and provide a means for those forest owners to share their knowledge, experiences and resources and help in the marketing of the timber”, and he acknowledged the work done by the Forestry Development Department of Teagasc in the development of most of the Groups formed to date.

Minister Hayes noted the relevance of the topics for discussion at the Conference and welcomed, in particular, the inclusion of a talk on ‘Safety in your Forest’, stating “We are all aware of the crucial importance of farm safety so I welcome the inclusion of this talk in relation to forests”. He concluded by encouraging the forest owners in attendance to make the most of the opportunity presented by the Conference to learn and to make contacts in the industry and among other owner groups.