A group of 11 Irish foresters, woodland owners, academics and advisors came to the Welsh borders recently in a trip they named the ‘Hardwoods Focus Tour to Wales’.

The study tour programme began with two days that looked at examples of Welsh hardwood production, which included a visit to end-grain tile producers, as well as a meeting with Coed Cymru representatives.

The last three days were spent at Whitney Sawmills, where Woodland Heritage welcomed the party to what became the 23rd running of its Woodland to Workshop course.

Teagasc Forestry development officer and group facilitator Jonathan Spazzi said: “As well as attending the most informative and thought-provoking Woodland to Workshop course, we always envisaged that the Hardwoods Focus Tour would serve as an opportunity for intensive discussion amongst the diverse members in the HF Group.

“With a rapidly expanding forestry industry in Ireland and with growing interest in topics like continuous-cover forestry and adding value to intermediate hardwoods thinnings, we saw the tour as a catalyst for future initiatives.”

For Woodland Heritage this was the first time the workshop has been run for a single group, but it worked well for both attendees and tutors.

Guy Corbett-Marshall of Woodland Heritage said: “One of the aims of Woodland to Workshop courses has always been to bring together people from all parts of the timber supply chain to help users appreciate the effort that foresters make to provide the timber they need, whilst helping the growers understand what the users want.

“But whilst this course went against the norm to date, tutor feedback was particularly complementary about the quality of the forestry debates and we really hope that the links made will endure across the Irish Sea for years ahead.”

A week prior to the visit, the 22nd Woodland to Workshop course had been run for another 11 students with Kit Vaughan of Prime Coppice, the recipient of the Wood-Mizer (UK) bursary.

More details of the course can be found at www.woodlandheritage.org/woodland-to-workshop. To discuss a separate running of Woodland to Workshop for your own group, contact office@woodlandheritage.org.