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Minister of State Killeen Welcomes "European Forest Week"

Mr Tony Killeen TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for forestry, today welcomed 'European Forest Week' which runs from 20th October to 24th October 2008.

The European Forest Week, declared by Ministers responsible for forests in 46 European countries, is jointly organized by the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in close collaboration with the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, France.

The Week highlights the contribution of European forests in mitigating the effects of climate change, providing wood and renewable energy, promoting fresh water supply and protecting the environment.

Welcoming the designated week highlighting these benefits of forestry, Minister of State Killeen commented:"Given the wide ranging benefits of forestry, it is appropriate that there is a designated week at European level in which these can be discussed and fully appreciated. There is growing awareness of the global challenge presented by Climate Change and, in looking at ways to address this, it is important not to overlook the crucial role played by forests. Forestry has a distinct role in addressing climate change in the Irish context. Our existing forests represent a very significant store of carbon dioxide - the most important greenhouse gas. Not only do forests remove carbon from the atmosphere, they are also making a sustained contribution to renewable energy targets and the development of the wood-processing sector in Ireland."

Referring to the protection of the environment and enhanced biodiversity, the Minister of State added:"In Ireland, we maintain stringent controls over new and existing plantations to ensure that forestry development and management is fully compatible with the highest standards of protection."

Minister of State Killeen also welcomed the commitment by the Government of almost €128 million, an increase of 6% over the 2008 Estimate, for the forestry programme in last week's Budget, saying:"It is vital that new forestry planting is continued so that the wide ranging benefits of forestry can also be enjoyed by our children and future generations."

He concluded by saying that some interesting facts and figures about forestry will be accessible on the Department's website during European Forest Week to add to people's awareness of the forestry resource in Ireland.

Date Released: 20 October 2008