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Call for Proposals for the development and promotion of Sustainable Forestry

Mr John Browne T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with special responsibility for Forestry announced that his Department has issued a public Call for Proposals for the promotion and development of sustainable forestry. Applications for funding are invited from individuals, organisations or corporate bodies for financial support towards pilot projects and initiatives concerned with developing sustainable forestry in Ireland and for projects aimed at the promotion of forestry in Ireland.

Minister Browne said that this is the second Call for Proposals under a new procedure introduced by his Department last year, designed to stimulate and support ideas and projects from all parts of the forestry sector. The emphasis is on relatively small-scale projects that can be completed over one or two years and which do not fit readily into other funding categories.

"The response to last year's Call was overwhelming", the Minister said, "and I was delighted to be in the position of being able to support so many of the projects submitted".

18 projects were selected for support last year, with total grant-aid approved exceeding €890,000. These included an integrated wood energy project in County Clare, development of two flagship woodland projects at the Manch Estate in Dunmanway, Co. Cork and the Abbeyleix Estate in Co. Laois, design and testing of a thinning protocol for farm-foresters, a major initiative to protect the red squirrel and a range of other projects around the country.

"The range and variety of initiatives supported clearly demonstrates the imagination and enthusiasm which exists within the forest sector, and the extent to which our forests feed into so many aspects of modern Ireland", Minister Browne said.

This year's Call focuses on the better management of existing forests, the conservation and enhancement of the native forest gene pool and of biodiversity in Irish forests, alternative timber use (in particular the potential for reducing dependence on fossil fuels), alternative silvicultural systems (including agro-forestry), product development and marketing, and the development of synergy between forestry and other areas of economic and social activity.

Minister Browne said that he was anxious to involve as many stakeholders, individuals and organisations with an interest in forestry in the promotional and development strategy for the industry.

Further information is available from the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture and Food, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford, Tel: 053-60200, www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice.

16 January, 2006

Date Released: 16 January 2006