Top honours in forestry service awarded to Limerick and Kerry

THE top honours in the annual RDS/Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards have gone to Limerick and Kerry.

Winner of the Farm Forestry Award, which includes a cheque for €2,000 and an RDS silver medal, was John O’Connell of Blossomhill, Kilcornan, Co Limerick.

The Bio-Diverse Forestry/Woodlands Award, which also includes a cheque for €2,000 and an RDS silver medal, went to Kerry County Council for Ballyseedy Wood. Mayor of Kerry Bobby O’Connell accepted the award on the council’s behalf.

Forestry Minister Tony Killeen, who presented the awards at a ceremony in Kilkenny Castle, said he hoped the recognition of excellence will continue to create an awareness of what is required to manage forests to the highest standards possible.

This year’s merit award in the farm forestry category and a cheque for €1,000 was presented to Sean Ronan of Callan, Co. Kilkenny.

Declan and Yvonne Foley of Longford Demense, Beltra, Co Sligo, won the merit award and €1,000 in the bio-diverse woodland category.

A special judges’ award was made to Jan Alexander of Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, in recognition of the “close to nature methods” that are being applied to her plantation and of her contribution to Irish forestry.

Ms Alexander, who came to Ireland from Australia in the late 1970s, is chairwoman of Pro Silva Ireland and a founding member of CRANN.

The awards seek to promote excellence in timber production for commercial use and to encourage diverse forest habitats for ecological benefit.

They recognise and reward forest owners who are employing the basic principles of sustainable forest management.

They also promote the forestry industry in Ireland, the challenges it is facing and measures it is undertaking to provide for commercial timber production while maintaining a rich ecosystem to pass on to future generations.

The RDS has been championing the Irish forestry industry since 1740, when the society first granted premiums which resulted in the planting of 55 million trees over 40 years.

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