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Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, recently presented QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) certificates to the first two people who have completed the new Forest Harvesting training course at a function in Avondale House, Co. Wicklow. The Minister of State congratulated the two students, Martin McManus and Brendan Lynch, on getting their QQI Level 5 Award in Forestry Forwarder operations.

Presenting the awards, the Minister of State commented, “This is a significant day for all of us. My Department, in conjunction with other stakeholders, has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote training in the forestry sector, culminating in the roll-out of the Forester Harvester training courseToday’s ceremony is the culmination of an excellent collaboration between all players in the forestry sector including my Department, industry representatives, state bodies, and educators. It is a fantastic example of state and private industry working together to achieve common goals.

The Minister also noted that the new state of the art harvest training simulator he launched at the Teagasc College in Ballyhaise in late 2016 serves as an important training and assessment tool for part of the programme. The overall project was developed by the Forest Harvesting Training Forum, which has representatives from all areas of the forestry industry, with the new course designed to develop a broad-based employment focused competence in timber harvesting operations and to equip trainees with the appropriate balance of skills, knowledge and practical experience to work successfully within the forest harvesting sector.

Noting the increase in production arising from forests planted in the 1980s and 1990s and the forecast increase in Roundwood production, Minister of State Doyle added “A shortage of trained Forestry Harvesting operators would create a serious impediment to the mobilization of Irish timber. This, in turn, would have a detrimental impact on both the forestry and timber processing sectors as it would impact on the continuous supply of timber for processing. To ensure that we can mobilize the levels of timber required to meet demand, it is essential that we have a skilled, properly trained workforce on the ground to harvest the timber and that is one of the reasons why this training initiative is so important.