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Minister of State Hayes at the RDS/Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards 2013

Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, spoke at the presentation ceremony for the RDS / Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards 2013 in Castletown House today.

Minister Hayes noted that a forest plantation represents a substantial investment by the land owner and advised that “proper establishment and appropriate management can provide a return on that investment. That is why the forestry management skills that are showcased by these Awards are so important. The Forestry Act has been in place since 1946 and our aim is to streamline and improve service delivery to the industry to allow them to maximise output. We are continuing to work closely with the various farming and forestry groups to ensure that this bill benefits both growers and the environment.”

The Minister highlighted the contribution of the Irish forestry and forest products sector, generating approximately €2.2 billion in annual output and developing strong export markets.The important role of forestry in the economy Minister Hayes said “has been recognised by the Government in allocating some €105 million in capital funding for the 2014 afforestation programme in last week’s budget. This funding will be predominantly allocated to meeting the annual commitment to forestry premiums but will also allow the funding of some 7,000 hectares of new planting in 2014”.

The Awards cover three main award categories: Farm Forestry, Bio-diverse Forestry/Woodlands and the Community Woodlands Awards. There are also awards for new entrants and a Judges Special Award.

Minister Hayes congratulated the winners and thanked all those who took part in the 2013 competition, saying: “I hope that these examples will inspire other forest owners to consider putting their own forests forward for the competition and that the Awards will continue to attract such high quality entries into the future.”

Date Released: 24 October 2013