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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) designated 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The theme of this year’s annual forestry conference  is compatible with the IYPH objective  to  raise awareness on plant health protection which can “reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development”.

Ireland  has heavily  invested in the forestry and forest products sector and as a result we have a valuable forest resource and a viable  forest industry but there are many biotic and abiotic threats to our forests. The introduction of diseases and insect pests such as the great spruce bark beetle have the potential to destroy the livelihoods of forest owners with commercial forests and the Irish timber processing sector which depend on a healthy  home grown timber  resource. The threat of insect and fungal damage to Ireland’s trees and forests has increased in recent years. Globalisation, climate change and the increasing trade between countries of plant material and wood products such as logs, sawn timbers, packaging and ship’s dunnage increase the risk of spread of potentially very damaging invasive forest pests and diseases.  

While insect pest and disease attack can cause permanent damage to our forest resource,  the conference will also examine other threats from mammals and climate change related damage mainly due to  fire, drought and storms.

Audience: The conference is of interest to wood processors and forest owners and wood processors who stand to lose most if forests are damaged.  Presentations will be aimed at researchers, environmentalists,  foresters, forestry companies, and key policy makers in agriculture and other  land use, environment,  energy and  industry. The event will also  have relevance to State agencies, NGOs, local authorities, nurseries, parkland owners and the public.


Introduction:  Brian Murphy, Chairperson, Forest Industries Ireland, CEO Balcas – As the sawmiller sees it. CONFIRMED

Keynote address: Minister, with responsible for forestry – when announced.


Chairperson: Clodagh O’Reilly,  Director of Sales and Supply Chain, Coillte CONFIRMED

Geraint Richards, Head Forester, Duchy of Cornwall (Prince Charles’ Head Forester and recipient of Royal Forestry Society (RFS). Subject: Forest protection in the UK.TBC

Dr Richard O’Hanlon, Principal Plant Pathologist in Grassland and Plant Science Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Belfast. Subject:  Actual and potential threats to forests  throughout Ireland CONFIRMED

Tom McDonald,  Inspector, Forest Health,  Forest Service. Subject: Safeguarding the forest resource. CONFIRMED

Morning refreshments. Also poster display.



Chairperson: Marina Conway, FII and CEO Western Forestry Cooperative CONFIRMED

Mechteld Schuller, Irish Timber Growers Association and Director and Project Manager, Commercial Forestry Services.  Subject:  As the grower sees it: Forest protection and forest certification (chemical free options?) CONFIRMED

Dr Ian Short, Teagasc: Subject: The role of forest research in developing resistance to pest and fungal diseases. CONFIRMED

Dr, Melanie Tuffen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Subject: Pest risk analysis in protecting commercial forests. CONFIRMED

Climatologist – approaching Met Éireann. Subject: The impact of climate change (or global warming) on spread of insect pest and disease from tropical to temperate zones. TBC

Łukasz Ławrysz, State Forester in  Białowieża Forest District,  Polish State Forestry. Forest protection in Europe – challenges and safeguards. NOW CANCELLED.

Open forum followed by close of conference: Ken Bucke, President, Society of Irish Foresters.

Lunch 1.30pm

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