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McEntee Welcomes Increased Interest in Forestry

Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today welcomed the increased interest in forestry shown in 2012.

Minister of State McEntee said: "In view of the current challenging budgetary and economic environment, the allocation of some €111 million for the forestry programme in 2012 was recognition by the Government of the important contribution forestry makes to the economy, environment and society through employment, exports and climate change mitigation".

Noting the 37% increase in the number of applications for approval for afforestation in January 2012 compared to January 2011, the Minister of State added, "I am therefore pleased that landowners are proving that there is sustained interest in afforestation and that the allocation was merited.  I believe that the continued development of forestry is essential to ensure that there is a critical mass of timber coming on-stream in the years ahead to meet the demands of Ireland's valuable timber and timber products sector and the emerging wood energy sector." "I recently met with representatives of the forestry sector to discuss the forestry programme for 2012 and was pleased to launch a new Forest Roads (Grant) Scheme and re-open the Broadleaf Thinning Scheme" continued Minister of State McEntee.

He spoke of the importance of the recent forecast by Teagasc, as outlined in their 'Outlook 2012' publication, that "Prices paid for first thinnings continue to be buoyed by the more valuable palletwood segment of the harvest. Long term demand for timber is likely to remain strong." Noting the forecast, the Minister of State said, "I am sure that forest owners will be heartened by this. I arranged for information in relation to thinning and forest producer groups to be issued to forest owners in December 2011 and I hope that recipients found it useful and that it will be of assistance in maximising their return on their investment in forestry".

In relation to forest producer groups, he encouraged forest owners "to become involved in them, or to consider the formation of one in their locality, as they are proving to be a useful forum in which to learn and share information" and added "I am happy to see that the Teagasc Forestry Development Department will be conducting a nationwide series of One 2 One forestry clinics running from 13 to 24 February 2012. I encourage forest owners to avail of all such opportunities to learn about the management and thinning of their forests."

Minister of State McEntee added that he was encouraged by the ongoing development of the forestry sector and the co-operation and constructive input from the various bodies within the sector. He reiterated that the allocation of funding by the Government was acknowledgement of the important role of forestry and added that he would continue to assist the sector to ensure that it can fulfil its potential.

Date Released: 06 February 2012