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Minister of State Browne addresses Coillte Annual Management Conference

Speaking at the Coillte Annual Management Conference in the Mount Wolseley Hotel, Tullow, Co. Carlow, Mr John Browne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry, called on landowners to avail of the current package of forestry grants and premiums. Minister of State Browne said that he "will be looking at specific ways and means of encouraging farmers to make a special effort this year to plant particularly as the 20 year premium payment is still available".

He added that he wanted Coillte's continued active support in this in the long-term interests of forestry in Ireland.

Minister of State Browne said that he would be launching a major promotional campaign in the near future with the Irish Forestry Industry Chain, one of the aims of which is to encourage landowners to plant. "I hope that a wide-ranging campaign will bring the message to a wider audience, generate more interest and ultimately result in more farmers realising the benefits of planting trees," he said.

The Minister congratulated Coillte on another very successful year and commented that any reduction in profit, due to a number of exceptional items, should not detract from the excellent overall performance of Coillte's business in recent years. He also acknowledged Coillte's wide-ranging contribution to the forestry sector, noting that millions of visitors are visiting Coillte forests annually and that the economic activity generated by forest recreation and trail walking is of the order of €268 million. Minister of State Browne expressed the view that "it is imperative that these non-timber benefits of forestry are fully recognised and appreciated as a major contribution to the quality of life in Ireland."

9 February 2006

Date Released: 09 February 2006