Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Andrew Doyle, announced the opening of the Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group (KTG) Scheme for 2020. This is a conditional launch in light of current public health restrictions on group meetings. The purpose of launching the scheme now is to allow organisers to secure participants and complete the necessary preparations to be ready to commence the meetings when public health guidelines allow.
Minister Doyle said, “I am very pleased to announce the opening of another Forestry KTG Scheme for 2020, following the successful implementation of the Forestry KTG Schemes in 2018 and 2019. Over 600 forest owners participated in the Scheme last year all over the country. Results from 2018 and 2019 have shown that participants from these schemes have gained a lot of practical knowledge to better manage their forest and maximise the income from their holding.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government currently has measures in place which will be subject to updates and modifications over the coming months. The purpose of launching the scheme now is to allow time for organisers to recruit members to their groups, with a view to commencing meetings later in the year in line with the public health guidelines. The scheme will of course be kept under review in light of those guidelines.”
The aim of the Forestry KTG Scheme is to provide participating private forest owners with the knowledge they require to actively manage their own forest, mobilise their timber resource, and secure a valuable income from the crop in the market. All private forest owners are eligible to participate, irrespective of their forest currently being grant funded under the Forestry Programmes or not. Participants set their own learning agenda, led by a facilitator who is a professional forester.
The Minister’s Department also today published a comprehensive review of the operation of the scheme in 2019 which analysed the effect that participation has on forestry decision-making by participants. The results were very encouraging and showed that almost all participants are now managing their forest differently as a direct result of experience gained from their group meetings. The review also highlighted some improvements which could be made to the scheme which can be included for 2020.
Forestry companies, consultants and producer groups are invited to organise Knowledge Transfer Groups. Once approved, organisers can invite forest owners to participate in the groups. The Minister added, “Forestry KTGs provide an ideal base for forest owners to get into contact and start cooperating to maximise scale. I encourage all participating in the scheme to continue working together either informally or as part of a producer group after having the scheme has ended.”