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Winner of 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award announced

Teagasc welcomes the announcement by the Royal Dublin Society that the winner of the 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award is Cavan farmer Owen Cooney.

Winner of 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award announced
Noel Kennedy, Teagasc; Owen Cooney, RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award Winner; Minister Pippa Hackett and RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis pictured at the recent award ceremony which was held in Dublin on Monday, 29 November.

Owen was presented with his award in Dublin on Monday, 29th November, by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett and RDS President Professor Owen Lewis.

Receiving the Special Commendation Award in the 2021 RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Category is Westmeath farmer James Ham.

Noel Kennedy, Teagasc; James Ham, Teagasc Farm Forestry Special Commendation Award Receipient; Minister Pippa Hackett and RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis pictured at the recent award ceremony which was held in Dublin on Monday, 29 November.

Owen Cooney farms 35 hectares in County Cavan where, in recent years, he moved from dairying into contract rearing of dairy calves. He has been planting and managing trees and successfully integrating forestry into suitable areas of his farm over many years. With a mixture of both conifers and broadleaves, close to 30% of Owen’s farm is now under forestry. Combining his roles as farmer and forest owner has enabled Owen to develop an efficient management system that meets his objectives for his farm while also providing income, biodiversity, shelter and landscape benefits.

The RDS Teagasc Farm Forestry Award category aims to recognise excellence in sustainable use of land that incorporates both farming and forestry through the successful adoption of a whole farm planning approach. Congratulating Owen Cooney, Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara, highlighted how “the award acknowledges Owen’s role in achieving sustainable integration of his forestry and farming enterprises”. Professor O’Mara added: “Innovation and diversification are key tools to achieving farming sustainability and Owen is an excellent example of this. Teagasc is delighted to be associated with the RDS Forestry Awards through our sponsorship of the Farm Forestry Award Category.”

Accepting the award Owen Cooney said:  “I’m absolutely delighted to win the Teagasc farm forestry award. I’ve always had a love for forestry and planting has helped me explore and develop other farming opportunities.”

According to RDS President, Professor J. Owen Lewis: “Our trees and forests provide many economic, environmental and social benefits, and bring colour and biodiversity to both our urban and rural areas. It is more important than ever to recognise the work of our farmers and foresters who are contributing to the sustainable development of Irish agriculture, which remains the most important industry in rural Ireland.”

In highlighting the opportunities arising from the effective integration of forestry Noel Kennedy, Teagasc Forestry Advisor said: “Actively managed farm forests play many critical roles – from income generation and protection of water quality to enhancing on-farm biodiversity and combatting climate change through carbon sequestration”.

Cavan based Teagasc forestry advisor Kevin O’Connell said; “I am delighted that Owen’s commitment to forestry on his farm over many years has been recognised with this award. The forests he planted on suitable ground are now generating income and providing wider environmental benefits while improving farm efficiency. It is a win-win for Owen and his farm.”

For more information on all aspects of forest creation management and training visit www.teagasc.ie/forestry