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Minister Smith stresses the multiple benefits of trees for local communities

Speaking at a tree planting ceremony in Dun a Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, to mark National Tree Week, Seachtain N?isi?nta na gCrann, Mr. Brendan Smith TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food noted the theme of this year's National Tree Week, Trees for Energy, and said that trees can provide a renewable, carbon-neutral alternative to imported fossil fuel.

He added: "The cultivation of wood energy crops also represents a significant potential source of income for farmers and landowners."

With the recently announced Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS) and the premium payments available a farmer can now earn up to €774 tax-free per hectare planted. Minister Smith said that forestry is a 'must consider' option for farmers especially when all the benefits for the landowner and the wider community are taken into account.

Minister Smith pointed out that trees are a source of multiple benefits to our Community including environmental and recreation and indeed employment and all these must be exploited to the maximum in support of the quality of life particularly in Rural Ireland. The first stage in achieving this is wide recognition of the value and worth of sustainable forestry.

He complemented the Tree Council of Ireland on the very successful running of National Tree week this week but emphasised that this level of awareness and commitment must be maintained so as to pass on an enhanced public benefit to the generations that follow.

9 March 2007

Date Released: 09 March 2007