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Minister of State Wallace Opens National Forestry Conference

Speaking at the opening of the National Forestry Conference in the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise, Co. Laois today, Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry highlighted the recent developments and rate increases in the forestry schemes currently available.

Referring to the recent increases in the afforestation grants, the annual forestry premiums and the forest roads grant and the recent introduction of the Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS), Minister of State Wallace commented "With these measures I believe that we have assembled the best ever package for afforestation and forestry infrastructure. Forestry is now more than ever a real farm business option with tax-free income guaranteed for the initial twenty years period. Further tax-free income is then available from good management and thinning of the growing crop. It is also important that the ever-increasing value of the timber crop be taken into account when considering forestry as a farm enterprise."

The theme of this year's conference, organised jointly by COFORD, the Irish Forest Industry Chain, the Irish Timber Growers Association and the Society of Irish Foresters, is 'Technologies to improve Forest Management'. The Minister of State welcomed the speakers from Northern Ireland and Finland, commenting that it is beneficial to look at the technologies being used in other countries. There were also a number of presentations on current technologies in operation in the Irish forestry sector.

Minister of State Wallace advised the Conference of the ongoing development within her Department of IFORIS, the system which facilitates the processing of forestry pre-approval, grant and annual premium applications. She also drew attention to the recent commencement of the public consultation phase of the National Forest Inventory conducted by the Forest Service of the Department.

The Minister of State concluded by saying that "It is important that we examine the technology that is available and see how we can use it to improve our management of our forest resource" and thanked the bodies involved for organising an informative and useful Conference.

9 March, 2007

Date Released: 09 March 2007