Blueprint set for success in bio-diversity
Throughout Ireland, there are many outstanding individuals who manage to achieve excellence in whatever career they adopt. Most work away quietly and rarely receive proper recognition for their efforts, especially when their lives are spent in rural areas and out of the public gaze.
The RDS Farm Forestry Awards are invaluable for discovering such people and highlighting their efforts, and it is always an education to visit their farms and learn what it was that secured them the winner's medal.
The main award categories are focused on farm forestry and bio-diverse woodland management. The farm forestry awards are given to farmers who have created first-class, commercially viable woodland, with points also given for conservation and the retention of wildlife habitat. The bio-diverse award is for those who have greatly enriched the diversity of their woodlands while maintaining them for commercial production.
It all sounds rather similar -- and it is, because good forest management and wildlife conservation go hand in hand.
However, the winners of the bio-diverse category are always individuals who have created something really special within their woods to further enrich them with a wide range of diverse species.
Last year's bio-diverse award was Jack Tenison, who manages around 250ac of mixed woodland at Lough Bawn, near Ballybay, Co Monaghan. He had previously won this award in 2001 and was second in 2008.
The farm contains a mix of pasture land and old broadleaf woodland, much of which was planted more than 200 years ago, along with more recent plantings of younger stands of conifers -- the principal species is Sitka spruce.
Mr Tenison's own words best describe his management principles, which are "to seek to demonstrate that there is a middle way and that environmental and economic aspirations can be compatible".