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Minister of State Wallace affirms committment to Forestry

Speaking on her appointment as Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture and Food, Mary Wallace TD said she was delighted to be assigned the forestry portfolio, a sector which she saw as critical to the long-term stability of rural Ireland. The Minister of State said that she looked forward to engaging with the many challenges facing the sector and that she was determined to see forestry develop to its full potential.

She reiterated the Government's commitment to the forestry sector, which employs over 16,000 people directly and indirectly, pointing to the record allocation of €137m of public funds to the sector this year. Minister Wallace drew attention to the multifunctional nature of forestry in Ireland, which brings not just economic benefits to the country, but also social, recreational and environmental benefits as well.

Minister of State Wallace said "I am aware that the current afforestation programme is ending this year and, I look forward to the drafting of a new Programme, in consultation with the sector, which will guide the development of Forestry up to the year 2013."

The Minister said she was also conscious that new issues and challenges are constantly emerging, given the rapidly changing nature of Irish society, of the agriculture sector, and of forestry as a viable land use option within that sector. She added: "I look forward to the continued contribution of the forestry organisations and am confident that we can all work together in the best interests of forestry in Ireland".

She pointed to the contribution of the Forestry Liaison Group, which she understood has proved to be a very worthwhile and productive forum within which issues can be considered in partnership with representatives of the sector.

Minister of State Wallace concluded by acknowledging the contribution of her predecessor, Mr. John Browne TD, and wished him well with his new Marine portfolio.

16 February, 2006

Date Released: 16 February 2006