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Wallace outlines proposed Forestry Programme

Visiting the National Ploughing Championship today in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Forestry, took the opportunity to outline the schemes proposed in the new Forestry Programme to be funded by the Government under the current National Development Plan. She also encouraged visitors to the Ploughing Championship to visit the Department's stand, the Teagasc stand and the forestry village to avail of the range of information on forestry there.

Minister of State Wallace commented: "In line with the commitment stated in the Agri-Vision 2015 Action Plan, that the forestry funding programme for 2007-2013 will ensure that farmers who might wish to afforest all or part of their land can make their decisions on the basis of continued commitment of the Government to forestry, my Department has prepared a comprehensive package of measures to sustain and promote forestry into the future. Timber has always been an important commodity and, with the growing emphasis on sources of renewable energy, it is important to recognise the opportunities that exist for forestry and to plan accordingly. Forestry is a realistic land use option and I encourage landowners to seriously consider it."

The schemes recently approved by the EU Commission, include:

  • the Afforestation Schemes
  • the Forest Environment Protection Scheme (which was launched initally on a pilot basis) to encourage planting of high nature value forestry on REPS farms;
  • the Native Woodland Scheme, which will promote the planting of Ireland's native woodland species;
  • the Neighbourwood Scheme, which will now be extended beyond local authorities to create new opportunities for the establishment of amenity woodlands, and
  • a new Agro-Forestry Scheme, to encourage the planting of small scale forestry on agricultural holdings, including fuel-woods, nutrient buffers and riparian planting.

Minister of State Wallace added that a decision was awaited from the EU Commission in relation to certain proposed forest management support schemes including:

  • a new Forest Infrastructure Scheme, incorporating the existing Forest Roads scheme but providing for a range of other infrastructural and recreational needs;
  • a FEPS Enhancement scheme which was a second module of FEPS to promote intervention in existing forestry to convert these to high nature value woodlands;
  • an Woodland Improvement Scheme, promoting the pruning, shaping and in certain cases, thinning of established forests in order to maximise economic potential, and
  • a Forest Protection and Reconstitution Scheme, providing a basis for protecting the growing forest from predation and for replanting where required.

Commenting on the proposed Programme, Minister Wallace pointed out that while afforestation remained at the core of Ireland's forestry strategy, the increasing importance of environmental and non-timber benefits was recognised as well and would be fostered in the years ahead. She also drew attention to the importance of developing and improving the established forest resource and was glad to introduce new measures in this area. "Planting the trees is just part of the job," the Minister said, adding that a properly managed forest would deliver the best possible return on an investment that already out-performs most other forms of agriculture.

The Minister of State advised that a decision on the remaining forestry support schemes was awaited from the EU Commission and the new schemes would be made available as soon as possible thereafter.

26 September, 2007

Date Released: 26 September 2007