Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, presented the RDS Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards 2014 today at a function in Farmleigh House, Dublin.
Prior to announcing the winners, Minister Hayes noted that “this is an important event in the forest sector calendar as it allows us to recognise and reward forest owners who display the highest standards of forest planting and management” and added “the production of quality timber, with due regard for the environment, remains a constant goal. That is why these Awards are so relevant. The overarching principle is sustainable forestry management to encompass sound commercial management, environmental protection, biodiversity and social amenity.”
The Minister of State also looked to the future referring in his speech to the allocation of €113 million for the forestry programme in 2015 in the recent Budget and noted that “2015 will be a year of significant change in our sector with the rollout of a new forestry programme. The Forestry Bill 2013 has now been passed by the two Houses of the Oireachtas so the next step in that process is its signature into law by the President. I am confident that the new legislation will reflect the developments in the years since the current forestry legislation was enacted in 1946 and lay the legislative groundwork for the future of the industry.”
Organised by the RDS, and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the annual Forestry Awards recognise and rewards the efforts and achievements of farm foresters and other forest owners in the management of their forests. There were two main categories for which awards were presented – the ‘Community Woodlands Category’ and the ‘Farm Forestry Category’. As part of the Awards scheme, the judging panel also had the discretion to make a ‘Special Judge’s award’ in recognition of outstanding achievements by individuals within the industry
The winner of the Farm Forestry category was Mr. Justin Good, Belturbet, Co. Cavan while the winner in the Community Woodlands category was Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion village, Co. Cavan, which is jointly managed by Coillte and Cavan County Council. Awards were also made to the runners-up in the main categories and to a number of individuals who just missed out on receiving an award. The judging panel also made a discretionary ‘Special Judges Award’ to Mr. Michael Patrick Hyde, Aughrim, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.
Minister Hayes concluded by congratulating the winners and thanked all those who participated in the Awards Scheme, especially the RDS, including the President, Mr. Matt Dempsey, and the Chairman of the RDS Agriculture Committee, Mr. Tom Cannon, for their organisation of the Awards Scheme and the hosting of the Awards function.