Minster of State Andrew Doyle TD presented Brendan Lynch and Martin McManus with their QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) certificates at Avondale House, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. This followed their successfully completing a Level 5 award in forestry forwarder operations, making them the first students to successfully complete this newly commenced course run out of Ballyhaise College. The two graduates, Martin McManus and Brendan Lynch, were congratulated by Minister Doyle on their achievement.
The Minister noted that this “is a significant day for all of us. My department, in conjunction with other stakeholders, has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote training in the forestry sector – culminating in the roll-out of the forester harvester training course.”
Trevor McHugh, Chairman of the Forest Harvest Training Forum and Managing Director – Commercial of Veon Ltd, also congratulated the two candidates noting that as Ireland looks back on 30 years of private forestry expansion in Ireland so the sector recognises the urgent need to train more timber harvest machine operators. Commenting on the day, Mr. McHugh noted that “this highly specialised task is essential to ensuring that forest owners can achieve the best return from their forests. While the sector is now a significant part of the rural economy, we must remember that, as with all agricultural activities, each individual forest owner is reliant on the success of their specific forest. Part of achieving a positive result for private owners is ensuring that harvest machine operators benefit from the highest level of professional training. The newly developed course, based in Ballyhaise College, is a crucial part of delivering this training.”
Over the coming 15 years, Ireland’s forestry sector will double its timber production with all this increased production emanating from the private sector. The opportunity to reduce timber imports is clear and represents a significant opportunity for Ireland to create sustainable jobs in rural Ireland. It follows 30 years of sustained government support of the sector.
With an existing 12,000 jobs reliant on the forestry sector, Ireland already benefits from a €2.3 billion contribution to GDP from the sector. With the expanding timber harvest that is going to occur over the coming years, it is essential that professional training keeps pace with the development of the sector as a whole.
With the launch of the Harvest Machine Operators Course in Ballyhaise College, complemented by the availability of a Harvest Machine Simulator, Ireland now has world class accredited training available to those wishing to pursue a career timber harvesting.
Once forests are harvested it is a legal requirement that the lands are replanted. This ensures the continued growth and expansion of the sector as Government policy continues to encourage further afforestation of new lands.
Anyone with an interest in learning more about this course should to contact Ballyhaise College for a course prospectus.
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Pictured at the award ceremony at Avondale House Co. Wicklow (L-R): Trevor McHugh, MD Commercial Veon Ltd, Martin McManus QQI, Minister of State Andrew Doyle TD, Brendan Lynch QQI and Marianne Lyons, Forestry Lecturer at Teagasc Ballyhaise College