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Minister Smith supports efforts to increase forestry

Speaking at a tree planting ceremony in Belmont Forest, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, today to mark the beginning of National Tree Week, Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, noted the significant benefits of forestry and encouraged farmers to avail of the current package of afforestation grants and premiums.

The tree planting was to mark the 22nd National Tree Week, which takes place from 5th to 11th March. The aim of Tree Week is to increase awareness of trees. Minister Smith said "I am very happy to mark Tree week and I would encourage local communities to participate in the 300 or more events taking place throughout the country during the week". National Tree week is organised by the Tree Council of Ireland and is sponsored by Coillte and O2.

Minister Smith continued that the theme of the 2006 National Tree Week, 'Trees our Lifeline', is both timely and appropriate. Minister Smith said "Trees provide a lifeline in so many ways, such as providing a means of income, sustaining employment, enhancing the environment and providing a recreational resource". He pointed out that over ninety per cent of all new planting in recent years was undertaken by farmers. Minister Smith also commented that he was particularly pleased that the Forest Service/RDS Farm Forestry Award in 2005 had been won by Cavan farmer, Mr. Justin Good. Minister Smith concluded by encouraging landowners to give serious consideration to the afforestation schemes run by his Department, stating that forestry is a viable land use and the scheme of grants and tax free premiums make it a very attractive option.

6 March, 2006

Date Released: 06 March 2006