The value of broadleaves goes far beyond hard cash
Occasionally I find myself fortunate enough to attend an event that will remain in my memory for decades.
In this case it was an Irish Timber Growers Association field day where we visited 100ha of mixed woodland in Co Monaghan.
Without exception, the success of such outings is largely dependent on the interest and commitment of the owner and our host for the day, Jack Tenison of Lough Bawn, excelled himself in providing, throughout an educational and scenic walk, numerous points of interest where we could pause and discuss all the many aspects of private woodland management.
At each stop, Jack would outline past management and how he was dealing with ongoing issues, be they with conifers or broadleaves and having told us all we needed to know about the success or otherwise of each specific area, he then asked the all-important question "what would you do?"
This of course prompted a fascinating debate with different foresters and timber growers all giving their pound's worth based on their own experiences. One of the best features of the day was the chance to listen to some great communicators with huge experience of trees and timber production here in Ireland and abroad.
These included Bede Howell, former Royal Forestry Society President and tireless campaigner for excellence in UK forestry. His energy and commitment to all aspects of forestry and woodland management are legendary, but in particular I knew of him for his quest to find effective solutions to grey squirrel damage which has been even worse in the UK than here in Ireland.
More recently he translated that great book, Oak: Fine Timber in 100 years, from the original French and which can be obtained from Future Trees Trust at www.futuretrees.org.
Another speaker, whose lectures I have been fortunate to attend in the past was Dr Matthew Jebb, director of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.