The deadline for applications to a pilot forestry Knowledge Transfer Group scheme in counties Limerick and Tipperary is set to close on Thursday, March 16.

The scheme was recently launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle, at the AGM of Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners in Hollyford, Co. Tipperary.

It is hoped the pilot project will test the feasibility of a Knowledge Transfer Group (KTG) scheme for the entire forestry sector, the focus of which is expected to be on the mobilisation of timber and biomass.

It is set to be modelled closely on the Department’s existing Knowledge Transfer Groups for beef, sheep and other sectors of agriculture.

The aim of the KTG scheme is to increase the level of forest management activity amongst participating forest owners, as well as to increase awareness amongst participants of the value of their forests and the potential value of biomass.

Three existing forestry groups are taking part in the pilot and there will be multiple KTGs within each group. These forestry groups are set to cover counties Limerick and Tipperary, as well as Clare and Donegal.

It is intended that the pilot will have up to 300 forest owners participating across 15 KTGs.

Management of a forest asset enhances an owner’s ability to derive a good return, according to Minister Doyle.

By removing the knowledge gap that exists amongst some forest owners, the Department hopes to assist forest owners to become forest ‘managers’.

“Forests managed pro-actively by their owners will, I believe, result in more productive and more sustainable forests,” he said.

What is involved?

Based on the same idea as dairy and beef discussion groups, participants will be required to attend seven meetings.

These meetings are expected to be held in the evening and last for approximately two hours, over a six to 12 month period.

Participants will be paid €70 per meeting in order cover respective costs, which amounts to a total of €490.

There will be no issues over dual funding for people already involved in another discussion group, as the forestry discussion group is set to be funded by the exchequer rather than the EU.

Issues covered at the meetings by the professional forester are set to be “topical and relevant”. It is hoped the scheme will provide participants with an opportunity to gain knowledge about their forestry plantation and its future.