Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (258)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

258. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on establishing a forestry knowledge transfer programme similar to beef and dairy programmes. [23146/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department has a well established Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group (FKTG) Scheme since its pilot year in 2017. This pilot was very well received and every year since, a new FKTG scheme has been opened, including this year.

The aim of the KTG scheme is to increase the level of forest management activity amongst participating forest owners. The target group are those forest owners that require additional knowledge to help them undertake one or more management activities in their forests. KTGs will provide the mechanism for gaining this expertise and empower them to manage their own forest over its rotation. By filling this knowledge gap, a potential barrier to the mobilisation of timber and biomass can be removed.

Groups are managed by an organiser, who may also be the group facilitators. Groups comprise 20 participants, who meet over seven events, both indoor and outdoor. Outdoor events may comprise visits to forests to demonstrate management activities or to sawmills. Peer-to-peer learning is the key tool, with participants setting their own learning agenda, with the facilitator structuring and guiding the discussion.

The scheme comprises mandatory and optional topics. The mandatory topics cover inter alia , obligations in respect of the Water Framework, Habitats and Birds Directives; health and safety; felling decision support tool; and, sustainable forestry methods and technologies. There is a range of 28 optional subjects including reforestation, woodland improvement and non-timber benefits of forestry. The delivery of this year's programme will, of course, be in accordance with, and conditional on, Covid-19 guidelines.

I am very pleased to note that participation in these schemes has increased year-on-year, as outlined in the following table:

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No. of Groups

No. of participants

2018

33

605

2019

36

614

2020

42

840