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Minister Wallace announces Forestry Premuim Payments of €57M for 2007

Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry, today announced the payment of almost €57 million in respect of nearly 15,000 forestry plantations nationwide, most of which are owned by farmers.

This is the annual forestry premium payment under the Forestry programme of the Department of Agriculture and Food. The average size of forestry holdings is eight hectares and the average payment per forest-owner is approximately €3,800.

Announcing the payment run today, Minister of State Wallace commented that the final processing stage of the payment took place in March this year, which resulted in the payments being issued earlier than last year. She added that she was pleased to note that IFORIS, the Integrated Forestry Information system developed by her Department, had contributed to the speeding up of the processing of payments. Referring to the payments themselves, the Minister of State said: "These payments are only part of the return which farmers can expect from forestry. While this annual, tax-free, payment is a regular income for up to 20 years, there is also the end value of the timber crop at the time of felling as well as returns from thinning during its growing cycle."

She added: "New planting of forestry is vital to sustain the forestry sector into the years ahead and it is important that the package on offer is most attractive to landowners. I was particularly pleased therefore that planting grant levels have increased in some cases by up to 25% in the last two years, while the annual forestry premium paid to farm foresters has increased by 15%, with a new maximum payment of up to €574 per hectare per annum."

Minister of State Wallace also reminded farmers of the recently introduced Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS) providing a top up grant of €200 per hectare bringing the €574 per hectare to €774 per hectare per annum. This scheme was designed to encourage the establishment of high nature value forestry on farms that participate in REPS. "Properly planned forestry is one of the most environmentally friendly end-uses to which we can put our land, directly affecting the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. Forestry in Ireland already delivers a significant range of environmental goods in addition to its timber output".

Concluding Minister Wallace said that with increased demand for timber, and new markets developing every day for wood energy, it is an ideal time to plant trees.

"I believe that every landowner should seriously examine forestry as a land use option taking into account the returns, both short and long term, and how it would fit in with their current enterprises and activities."

3 April, 2007

Date Released: 03 April 2007