Teagasc Forestry Development Department (FDD) organises 6 “marteloscope” workshops in Oak Park forest

Teagasc Forestry Development Department (FDD) organises 6 “marteloscope” workshops in Oak Park forest

Teagasc Forestry Development Department (FDD) continues its innovative “outdoor classroom” forestry training programme with 6 busy “marteloscope” workshops in Oak Park forest.

During April and May this year Teagasc FDD organised a series of workshops in the outdoor training facility installed in the forests of Teagasc Oak Park, Carlow. The workshops drew significant interest and resulted in positive knowledge sharing, great engagement and lively discussions in the forest. This is part of an ongoing programme of “marteloscope” workshops first launched in spring 2022 and coordinated by Forestry Development Officers Jonathan Spazzi, Frances McHugh and Kevin O’Connell. These “marteloscope” sites are specially prepared forest plots which allow for versatile training of a broad range of users such as forest owners, foresters, students and the general public.

This new forest training and development resource aims to demonstrate how integrated forest management can help optimise the production and biodiversity value of forests. It adopts a facilitation-style format and encourages participants to learn by doing, leading to group discussions and valuable peer-to-peer learning. It includes the use of touch-screen tablets for thinning simulations while in the forest, allowing participants to practise new skills and test out in real-time different management options ranging from clearfell to continuous cover management systems.

This latest spring series was targeted in particular at forestry students and forest owners and attracted more than 70 participants. The workshop training had three main objectives:

• To familiarise participants with different forest management scenarios ranging from clearfell to continuous cover harvesting systems

• To practice the key skill of selecting trees by their quality-vigour and biodiversity value.

• To demonstrate how, on suitable sites, timber production could be integrated with biodiversity enhancement leading to resilient and permanent productive forests.

Forestry student’s workshops

Workshops for forestry and other third level students from the South East Technological University (SETU), Teagasc Ballyhaise College and Technological University Dublin (TUD) were organised this spring in collaboration with researcher Dr. Dheeraj Rathore. Students took park in the interactive marteloscope experience along with getting first-hand experience of ongoing forestry research taking place in Oak Park. This new formula was particularly well received and likely to continue in the future.

TUD students visiting forestry research plots in Oak Park

Mixing of students from different courses in the same workshop was also found to lead to positive synergies.

Joint workshop for students from Ballyhaise College and SETU

Forest owner’s workshops

An efficient registration process gave a broad range of forest owners and other forest users the opportunity to participate. This resulted in diverse groups participating to each workshops which in turn added interest to the lively interaction on each day. In addition a dedicated workshop for a group of forest owner’s from the Irish Forest Owner (IFO) group was also organised in May.

                                 Workshops with different groups of forest owners  

Future workshops

Following on from a successful spring programme, a new series of workshop dates will be scheduled and details will be announced during the summer. The workshop structure takes an adaptive approach and the workshops are adjusted and evolve over time: the content is regularly updated and the interactive exercise reviewed in light of the participant’s experience.

One important aspect of this training initiative is it’s European dimension.

The FDD marteloscope plots are in fact part of a very dynamic European network which connects almost 200 practical demonstration plots in different countries. These involve many forestry agencies with relevance to number a of Irish and European research and development projects. Exchange between partners is ongoing and this allows sharing of educational experience for common learning.

As part of this European networking, Teagasc was invited to present its FDD marteloscope educational programme at GoProFor LIFE project final conference in Florence in March this year on integrated forest management.

GoProFor LIFE conference on integrated management in Florence

Upcoming national event on continuous cover forestry, 6 July

Forest owners and others, interested in finding out more about integrated forest management opportunities will be able to attend a national event on continuous cover forestry planned for 6 July in Co Limerick, organised by the FDD.

On the day, a new online training facility will also be presented: Forest-MOOC-for-change. This project is the result of an Erasmus funded project, a collaboration between the FDD and forestry development agencies from Belgium, France and Germany.

This new forest management educational resource is targeted to owners and other groups interested in learning about continuous cover management and it will be the first free online course on continuous cover forestry available in Europe in 3 languages. This free course will introduce the principles of continuous cover forestry and provide examples from across Europe and will be structured in 8 chapters:

Introduction and history

Natural forest functioning

Natural dynamics

Continuous Cover Forestry and resilience

Ecosystem services

Continuous Cover Forestry and wood economy

Continuous Cover Forestry in practice

Each chapter will include videos and online content derived from the partner countries and is planned to go live in October 2023.

For more information contact jonathan.spazzi@teagasc.ie