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Doyle Hosts Meeting of the Forestry Implementation Group

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D.,   hosted the third meeting of the Forestry Implementation group on 12 March, 2019. This group comprising stakeholders from the forestry sector, producers, the environmental pillar and State Bodies meets quarterly to review implementation of the National Forestry Programme.

During a wide-ranging discussion the Minister updated on the recently announced sustainable forestry management schemes, as follows:

  • The Woodland Improvement Scheme, with the introduction of 2nd Thinning grant, has doubled in applications compared to last year, which is a hugely encouraging trend.
  • 50% of the expected uptake of the new Continuous Cover Forestry(CCF) have been received in just the first six weeks of the scheme;
  • The new Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme, which aims to support land owners who wish to plant broadleaves in areas where there is a risk of deer damage has attracted 10 applications to date.
  • Broadleaf planting increased 25% last year compared to the previous year and now stands at 28% of total planting.
  • With regard to native woodlands, DAFM’s Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) is continuing to attract interest from a wide range of businesses and we expect to be making some announcements in the new future. DAFM is also planning a workshop on WEF for the Irish corporate sector in May which will include a site visit to a nearby native woodland.
  • The Minister also reiterated his commitment to increase applications for the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme by 5 times by the end of the Forestry Programme. This forms part of the 20 Seeds for Nature response arising from the recent National Biodiversity Conference and is part of the national effort to support biodiversity conservation, enhancement and restoration.
  • The Minister also noted that there has been a very strong response to the Department’s call for proposals to promote the multi-functional benefits of forestry, with 40 individual proposals received.  The evaluation of these proposals has commenced and it is expected that the successful projects will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the meeting, Minister Doyle stated, “these meetings are an important forum both for updating stakeholders and also for an exchange of views and ideas on the implementation of the National Forestry Programme. The Programme continues to evolve and the effects of the changes we made under the 2018 mid-term review are really starting to be seen, particularly on planting of broadleaf trees. I’m particularly thrilled at the immediate uptake of the CCF measures and the doubling in uptake of our Woodland Improvement Scheme.  We have conducted a review of the first year of Knowledge Transfer programme for farmers with forestry and found that the scheme was well received, and I am now proposing a second year of the programme to be announced in the coming weeks”.

A presentation on forestry and the bio-economy and the various forestry research project calls was also given to the Implementation Group.   Teagasc updated on their initiatives to promote forestry including the feedback from their series of nationwide clinics in January and February. The Minister also confirmed that DAFM and Teagasc will be engaging in some promotion initiatives to coincide with the upcoming UN International Day of Forests.

The Minister concluded “Planting rates under the Forestry programme to date this year are showing an increase on last year but I am well aware that we can and must do better, particularly if forestry is to continue to make its contribution to our environmental goals and the rural economy. Implementation of the Programme remains a key priority and we are closely monitoring this”.

Added 13.03.19

Members of the Forest Implementation Group

Note for Editors:

  • Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha, or more than two tree heights wide without the retention of some mature trees.  These systems are generally associated with natural regeneration but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required. The objectives of the scheme are:
  • To enhance environmental benefits of existing coniferous forests by opening up the canopy and creating new habitats for wildlife;
  • To create an uneven canopy structure with the aim of producing high quality, high value logs.
  • To promote a more suitable management option in sensitive sites; and
  • To develop skills in continuous cover forestry across the forestry sector to facilitate adoption.

Further details can be found here.

  • The Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) provides an access point for individual businesses, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, to help expand Ireland’s native woodland resource, by providing additional incentives to encourage landowners to plant new native woodlands that they may not have otherwise planted, had that additional support not been provided. In practical terms, it will result in the provision of a once off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare to participating landowners.

Further details can be found here.

  • A new Call for Research Proposals under the Department’s Research Funding Programmes was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., on 10 March 2019.   The Department has three ‘public good’ competitive research funding programmes that cover the Food, Agriculture and Forestry thematic areas.  The Programme of Competitive Forest Research for Development (Forestry) aims to develop a scientific foundation and support for a sustainable, competitive, market orientated and innovative forest industry.  Further information may be accessed on the Department’s website at the following link: National Call 2019.

ENDS

Date Released: 13 March 2019