For Oral Answer on : 25/05/2023
Question Number(s): 69 Question Reference(s): 25215/23
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the way his Department is promoting the planting of trees; the progress that has been made to date in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am committed to the promotion of tree planting, including in relation to the protection and enhancement of biodiversity within our forests, for climate change, wood production, economic development, employment and quality of life.
As Deputies may be aware, extensive work has been undertaken to date in the development of a new future for forestry in Ireland. Ireland has now for the first time a Shared National Vision for Trees, Woods and Forests in Ireland until 2050 which was informed by a series of comprehensive consultation and engagements. This public consultation brought forestry to the fore in terms of awareness. This Vision in turn has informed the development of our new draft Forestry Strategy for Ireland.
The new Forestry Programme will be the means by which we implement this Forest Strategy to 2030. The Forestry Programme 2023-2027 replaces the previous Forestry Programme which expired at the end of 2022.
Funding of €1.3 billion has been secured for this ambitious Forestry Programme 2023-2027. Subject to State Aid approval from the European Commission, this will support the largest, most farmer-friendly investment in forestry in the history of the State.
The funding encompasses a wide range of attractive grant and premiums that makes forestry an excellent land use option to complement existing farming enterprises, whilst also planting trees in a manner to provide lasting benefits.
We intend to convey this positive message through a concerted communications campaign across various media. As part of this approach we will work closely with Teagasc so that they may convey this message through their interactions with farmers and forest owners. Our aim will be to increase awareness levels and promote the multiple benefits associated with forestry in relation to our new Programme. In addition I intend to shortly launch a call for proposals from interestedt parties to promote all aspects of forestry to a wide audience. This will include promoting forests to society at large and highlighting their role in the provision of eco-system services and bioenergy and their role in terms of communities, children and general wellness. It will allow for promoting schemes under the new Forestry Programme, with a particular focus on farmers, existing forest owners and other land owners. We will be asking that the benefits of productive forestry and the benefits of increased use of timber products in construction and design be advanced and that sustainable forest management amongst forest owners be promoted.
As the European Commission is currently reviewing our formal State Aid notification for the Forestry Programme 2023-2027, it would be premature to finalise our promotions strategy at this time. However, I would like to assure you that a refreshed and inclusive promotion campaign will be undertaken across a variety of fora to promote all aspects of forestry, including increased afforestation and biodiversity once this and the associated environmental process have concluded.