Hardwoods scheme a 'plus' to industry
The Forestry and Bio Energy Show held recently over two days at Birr Castle Estate was one of those nice events enjoyed as much by the stand holders as by those who just came to look and learn.
One forestry consultant remarked to me that it was a "quality" crowd in attendance. Virtually everyone present had come on a mission, either to learn more about woodland management or purchase some item of equipment. He said that from a stand holder's point of view, while the Ploughing Championships attract huge crowds, many are only there to wander around and annoy you for free pens and leaflets.
Furthermore, entering and leaving the Ploughing is never an easy task and can take hours, whereas accessing the show at Birr was painless and without delays.
The Birr event reminded me very much of its counterpart in Britain, the Professional Foresters' Show. All the major forest machinery suppliers were present and prospective buyers could try out equipment in the woods or watch it being put through its paces in a proper working environment with lots of space for onlookers.
The organisers were delighted with the reaction from both visitors and commercial interests and plan to hold another similar show in two years' time with the dates set for early May.
My son and I took a small stand under our 'Log On Firewood' banner in the hope of meeting with woodland owners who have broadleaf thinnings to sell. This proved worthwhile and we also met many others in the wood-fuel business, who called to the stand to share experiences and catch up on developments.
I made sure not to miss the opportunity to meet our new Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, Sean McEntee, who opened the show and gave a very positive talk on the benefits timber growing brings to the Irish economy.
We all have high hopes that he will be able to help our forest industry continue to prosper during these tough times. Of course, being a Meath man, it will be no bother to him.