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Next Exciting Step in Teagasc’s Birch Improvement Programme Announced at TIMBER 2015

Teagasc’s Forestry Development Department was delighted to be present at this year’s very successful TIMBER 2015, the Irish Forestry, Woodland & Bio Energy Show. TIMBER 2015 took place over the weekend at the Stradbally Hall Estate, Co Laois.

Teagasc had its own marquee and demonstration area highlighting its extensive advisory, research and training services. Teagasc focused on the new Forestry Programme, providing details on each element of the programme.

Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Head of the Forestry Development Department with Teagasc commented “Teagasc was pleasantly surprised with the number of queries we received relating to the new Forestry Programme. It is clear that many landowners are considering developing a forest enterprise under this new attractive Forestry Programme.”

At TIMBER 2015, Tom Hayes, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, launched the next exciting step in Teagasc’s Birch Improvement Programme: The Commercialisation of the Teagasc Birch Improvement Programme.

Teagasc and None so Hardy Nurseries are currently engaged in discussing a joint commercialisation plan to support and ensure exploitation of improved birch resulting from the Teagasc-led tree improvement programme at a national level, with potential expansion to cover alder and sycamore in due course. There is a clear commitment from both parties on partnering, with a view to long term exploitation of outputs from the state-supported tree improvement programme coordinated by Teagasc.

Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Head of Teagasc’s Forestry Development Department commented: “This announcement is the result of seventeen years of tree improvement research initiated and led by Teagasc with collaboration from UCC and UCD, and has been mostly funded through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The research is now at the exciting stage of starting to build strategic alliances with commercial seed producers/nurseries to ensure that Teagasc’s research output is brought to the next level by making improved planting stock available to landowners.”

Teagasc researcher Oliver Sheridan explained the background to this research project: “Many stakeholders highlighted the need for more work on broadleaves, especially native species. Birch is considered to have potential for timber as it is the most important commercial broadleaf species in Northern Europe; highly valued in Scandinavian and Baltic countries. However, the poor form of birch in Ireland has prevented its listing on the recommended species list for commercial forestry. Attempts to import seed from good quality birch from other countries have failed, as birch is very closely adapted to the ecology of its origin. Nevertheless, over a million birch trees are planted every year in Ireland; mainly for biodiversity and native woodland schemes. Successful birch tree breeding programmes in other countries, such as Finland and Sweden, has resulted in silver birch of much higher quality (straight stem and reduced knots) and with about 26% higher volume growth.”

Minister Tom Hayes launches joint Teagasc / DAFM new range of forestry publications with Teagasc staff at TIMBER2015 which was held in Stradbally on 9-10 May. 

These publications are available at www.teagasc.ie/publications