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Killeen Presents 2009 RDS/Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards

Mr. Tony Killeen TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for forestry, presented the 2009 RDS/Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards tonight at the Awards ceremony held in Kilkenny Castle.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of State Killeen commented, "The Awards recognise and reward farmer foresters and other forest owners who are employing the basic principles of Sustainable Forest Management on their properties, including sound commercial management, environmental protection, biodiversity and social amenity".

The Minister of State also thanked the RDS for its organisation and promotion of the prestigious awards scheme, in partnership with the Department, and added that the profile of the awards has increased within the forest industry, since they were first awarded 22 years ago. There are two main categories for which awards are presented - the Farm Forestry category and the Bio-Diverse Forest/Woodlands category.  There is also a Special Judge's award, which may be made, at the discretion of the judging panel, in recognition of outstanding achievements by individuals within the industry.

The winner of the Farm Forestry category in 2009 was Mr. John O'Connell, Limerick with 2nd place going to Mr. Sean Ronan, Kilkenny and a Merit Award in this category going to Mr. Ambrose Kilcline, Co. Roscommon.

Kerry County Council were the winners in the Bio-diverse Forest/Woodland category with 2nd place awarded to Declan and Yvonne Foley, Sligo with Merit Awards going to Mr. Derek Felton, Dublin and Mr. Vincent Slevin, Mayo.

A Special Judges Award was made to Jan Alexander, Cavan, in recognition of the "close to nature methods" that are being applied to her plantation and also because of her contribution to Irish forestry over the years.  Jan is chairperson of Pro Silva Ireland and a founding member of CRANN.

Minister of State Killeen highlighted the ongoing and increasing importance of forestry and the need to raise the general awareness of the importance of the sustainable management of our forests from a commercial, social and environmental point of view. Presenting the Awards, the Minister of State added, "I would like to congratulate the category winners and hope that the acknowledgement and reward of excellence through these Awards will continue to create awareness of what is required to manage our forests to the highest standards possible and indeed the high standards that can be achieved". 

Date Released: 22 October 2009