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Minister Coughlan launches the RDS-Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards 2006

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today launched the RDS-Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards 2006 on the farm of Liz and Ralph Sheppard, Carnowen House, Raphoe, Co. Donegal. These Awards represent a partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Food and the RDS who have been associated with forestry promotion since 1740.

The Minister announced that the 2006 awards will feature two categories, Farm Forestry and Biodiverse Forest/Woodlands. The Sheppards were winners of the Biodiverse Forests/Woodlands category in 2005 and attendees at the launch were invited to go on an organised walk through their woodlands to appreciate the standard that was required to win the prestigious award. Minister Coughlan also announced that this year, there may also be a judges' prize for a forestry company whose work particularly impresses them in the course of their consideration of the applications.

The Minister enjoyed a short tour of the Sheppard plantation stating that she was delighted to have the opportunity to visit and see such a prime example of a privately owned forest "which reflects to the highest degree the principles of Sustainable Forest Management."

Minister Coughlan encouraged plantation owners to enter their forest into the Awards Scheme to highlight their good work and the high standard of forestry in Ireland. She also took the opportunity to refer to the recent forestry promotion campaign launched by Minister of State Wallace, commenting that "This joint initiative between my Department and the Irish Forestry Industry Chain has as its purpose the promotion of forestry as an attractive and viable land use option. It is my hope that this new campaign along with the ongoing promotion of forestry through these awards will help develop a tree culture in Ireland."

Further details on the RDS/Forest Service Forestry Awards may be obtained from the RDS.

10 July 2006

Date Released: 10 July 2006