A total of 52 new Knowledge Transfer (KT) groups for forest owners have been approved by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle.

Minister Doyle confirmed the establishment of these new groups in an announcement issued this morning.

This follows on from the minister’s recent announcement inviting expressions of interest to establish such groups. These applications have now been assessed and the successful groups selected.

It is understood that the new forestry KT groups will have the capacity for over 1,000 participants.

Commenting on the development, Minister Doyle said: “I am delighted to see the huge level of interest shown in these forestry KT groups and to announce that we are funding all successful applications.

These groups will facilitate best practice and shared learning and aim to fill an identified knowledge gap in the forestry sector.

“I look forward to seeing them develop over time and to them adding value for private forest owners and for the Irish forestry sector as a whole,” he said.

The group organisers will now be notified by the department of their acceptance into the scheme.

Once this has been done, the group organisers can then move to the next stage of recruiting participants, facilitators and setting up groups.

In a statement, the department explained that KT groups in the forestry sector are being established to address barriers to timber mobilisation by encouraging higher levels of forest management activity.

It is understood that the groups will operate with a “bottom-up approach”, with members identifying topics they wish to cover.

Today’s announcement covers the intake for the 2018 KT group scheme. It is proposed to re-open the scheme in 2019 for another intake of applicants, the department explained.