A new strategic partnership between Teagasc and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology is set to focus on issues relating to the forestry sector.

It is hoped the strategic partnership will help to develop academic and educational co-operation in areas of mutual interest.

The President of GMIT, Dr Fergal Barry, and the Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday, February 7.

The MOU was signed at the Letterfrack campus in Connemara, the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology.

Whilst the initial MOU will focus on areas of broadleaf forestry and hardwood timber utilisation, the agreement allows for the development of a range of collaborative activities in other areas.

The two organisations are seeking to promote sustainable partnerships and mutual understandings in the following areas:

  • Research, related to timber utilisation, forestry, agriculture and food.
  • Appointment of adjunct faculty staff and research scholars.
  • Joint research activities.
  • Organisaton and participation in seminars, symposia, short-term academic programmes and academic meeting.
  • Exchange of research and educational materials, publications and academic information.
  • Creating and marketing of electronic instruction media, including credit and non-credit course.

Teagasc’s Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta and GMIT Letterfrack’s Dermot O’Donovan will lead the implementation of the MOU.

Benefits of the New Partnership

GMIT Letterfrack and Teagasc share a lot of common ground in terms of the forest life cycle, O’Donovan said.

“We are very happy to explore research projects of mutual interest with Teagasc and to share and leverage each organisation’s expertise in examining opportunities to add value to Irish-grown timber products.

“Research and development are key strategies for GMIT and this partnership will help to progress both of these areas in respect of the sustainable development and utilisation potential of Irish hardwood forestry produce, benefiting the region and staff and students on campus,” he said.

These initiatives are crucial to ensure that forest owners with broadleaves are supported in adding value to their forest crops, Ní Fhlatharta, said.

Forest owners with broadleaves account for 164,000ha or 26% of the forest area, she added.

Teagasc Director Gerry Boyle said that furthermore, this deal is set to expand the existing extensive collaboration with GMIT in the sphere of agricultural education.

This agreement will serve to closely align our broadleaf tree improvement, silviculture and management research programmes with industry and hardwood end-user needs.

“It will help ensure that the investment by forest owners and the state in our broadleaf crops will not only provide ecosystem services, but also a valuable indigenous raw material for high quality hardwood products,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President of GMIT believes this expanded partnership with Teagasc will help to further develop the capacity of GMIT’s National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology.

Dr Barry also hopes it will broaden the collaborative base to other significant areas of mutual interest and expertise between Teagasc and GMIT in areas such as food development.