Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D., has announced a new scheme to establish Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) for forestry. The scheme comes on foot of a successful pilot scheme run last year for these groups.
Minister Doyle said that “Knowledge transfer groups are well established in other sectors and I am very pleased to be announcing them for the forestry sector now. They’re a proven method of sharing best practice amongst participants in a sector and empowering them to maximise the value of their holding. They have a clearly defined role for the forestry sector now and by filling this knowledge gap a potential barrier to the mobilisation of timber and biomass can be removed.”
These KTGS are aimed at private forest owners that require additional knowledge to help them undertake appropriate management activities in their forests. Discussions will be facilitated by a professional forester and will incorporate both classroom style learning as well as practical elements. KTGs will also encourage these forest owners engage with forestry groups and forestry professionals. KTGs will provide the mechanism for gaining this expertise and empower them to manage their own forests over its rotation. Under the scheme Forestry groups, forestry companies and forestry consultants can apply to organise KTGs.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marines recent publication “Forest Statistics – Ireland 2017”, nearly 21,994 unique private forest owners have received grant aid to establish forests since 1980. The average size of these forests is just 8.8 hectares. The Minister stated that “working with these private forest owners to allow them to maximise the value of their forest is a priority for my Department. Consolidation of a widely dispersed private forest estate into larger management units will be part of this strategy. This also helps to maximise the value for the sector as a whole and increase downstream benefits and boost the rural economy. Cooperation with other forest owners will be key to this and I look forward to seeing these groups develop over time”.