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New Forest Harvesting Training Initiative Launched in Teagasc Ballyhaise College

New Forest Harvesting Training Initiative Launched in Teagasc Ballyhaise College
Sam Stewart, Ballyhaise Forestry student, showing the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle how to operate the new forest harvester and forwarder simulator at the launch in Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College on November 9th. Marianne Lyons, Teagasc and Trevor McHugh, IFFPA representing the Forest Harvesting Training Forum are looking on.

On Wednesday the 9th November the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD, attended Teagasc Ballyhaise College to launch a new forestry harvesting simulator and the development of a Forest Machine Operator Training Programme. 

The use of a simulator is a whole new approach to training operatives of modern harvesting machinery in Ireland.  It allows for the first time to identify a trainee’s aptitude to work in a highly technical process.  This can save considerable time and money as the cost of training on real machinery can be prohibitive for new entrants.

The purchase of this John Deere simulator by Teagasc was made possible through financial support from the Forest Service and in cooperation with industry representatives from the Forest Harvesting Training Forum.

Industry forecasts show that the private sector will contribute to over 50% of the total timber supply within ten years.  Private sector timber production (including energy wood), currently at 400,000m3 per annum, has the potential to increase to 2.7 million m3 by 2025.  Between Coillte and the private forestry sector a continuous supply of highly skilled operators will be required over the next decade.  Recruitment and training are necessary to maintain standards and to maximise the timber resource potential.  This strategic approach to up skilling existing operators and introducing new operators is essential for maintaining a sustainable forest industry and rural economy.

The established Level 5 and level 6 Forestry courses at Ballyhaise College currently deliver comprehensive training in forest safety, sustainable forestry, environment, silviculture and forest calculations as standard.  A practical learning period is also a requirement of the course.  New entrants into the forest harvesting industry are advised to complete a minimum of a level 5 forestry qualification before embarking on the harvesting machine skills qualification.  Existing operators who are not in a position to attend full time courses will still be able to fulfil various assessment criteria to become certified and qualified to the proposed QQI level.  The machine harvesting programme recognises for the first time the range of skills and knowledge necessary to be a professional harvesting operator and complements the existing industry standard.    The courses will include three separate components:

  1. Forwarder operator
  2. Harvester operator (clearfell)
  3. Harvester operator (thinnings)

The forest machine operator training programme will allow individuals access to a structured, quality assured training process, which is supported and recognised at all levels of the industry.  The training resources will be accessible to new entrants and existing operators with options to advance and build on training and education if desired.

Further information on course content and application forms are available by contacting Teagasc, Ballyhaise College, Co. Cavan 049 4338108 ballyhaise.college@teagasc.ie