Entries have opened for the RDS Irish Forest and Woodland Awards, which recognise and reward farmers and woodland owners that have adopted climate-smart agricultural practices on their properties.
These practices include sound commercial management, environmental protection, and biodiversity.
The RDS has said that the twin goals of promoting the economic and environmental benefits of good forestry and farming, are fundamental to what it hopes to achieve through its agriculture and rural affairs programme.
There are three prize categories for the awards with a prize fund of €9,000.
Categories in forest and woodland awards
The Production Forestry category is open to farmers and landowners using sound silvicultural management on their farms.
While the focus is on the management of the area for wood production, judges will also review diversity of species, particularly the presence of native trees such as ash, birch, oak, willow, etc., to ensure greater efficiency and quality in the development of the sector.
The Teagasc Farm Forestry Award recognises working farmers who are integrating forestry and farming for environmental, social and economic benefits.
The category aims to promote the positive sustainable contribution of forestry as an integral enterprise within the wider farming profile.
It acknowledges the farmer’s role in actively managing the forest and promoting tree planting to strengthen wider farming sustainability.
The Community Woodland Award is designed to encourage and reward projects involving the communal ownership and/or management of forests and woodlands, which have been established and managed in a sustainable way that is beneficial to the local economy and/or environment.
Entry is open to woodland-related community-based projects including participants in the NeighbourWoods Scheme and amenity forestry projects.
Entrants should also be able to demonstrate significant and sustained community input.
Other RDS awards
In addition to the Irish forestry awards, other categories include:
Sustainable Farming Sustainable Living Awards
- Sustainable Farming: Celebrates the efforts made by an individual or farm family who are sustainably developing on-farm activities through entrepreneurship, new product development, marketing, and improved efficiencies;
- Sustainable Rural Enterprise: Recognises individuals and organisations who are making a significant contribution to the economic, environmental, and social development of rural Ireland;
- Sustainable Rural Innovation Award: Recognises individuals and organisations who have applied science and technology to help deliver the principles of climate-smart agriculture such as greater efficiency, reduced waste and increased profitability;
- Sustainable Agri Start-up Award: Recognises individuals and businesses who are in the early stages of their development. Open to businesses in existence for less than five years or have less than five employees;
- Rural Social Impact Award: Open to rural groups and organisations that are promoting the sustainable development of their local community, e.g., initiatives that improve the local economy, rural environment, or social inclusion.
- Economic Breeding Index (EBI) Award – Best Dairy Cow;
- €uro-Star Replacement Index Award – Best Beef Cow;
- Dairy Herd Index Award;
- Beef Herd Index Award;
- LambPlus Breeders Index Award.
Nominations for these awards are received from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Sheep Ireland.
The winner of the three categories will receive €2,000 each and an RDS silver medal. The runners-up will receive €1,000 each and an RDS certificate of merit. Category winners will also receive a specially commissioned trophy.
Entries must be submitted on or before Tuesday, August 10, 2021.
If an entry is short-listed, judges may arrange a visit to inspect woodlands between August and October.
The 2022 RDS Spring Agriculture and Forestry Awards will be presented at a date to be confirmed later on this year.