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Minister of State Wallace launches Forestry Promotion Campaign in Mullingar

Speaking at the launch of a major forestry promotion campaign in Mullingar today, Mary Wallace TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for Forestry spoke of the benefits of forestry for farmers and the wider economy.

The nationwide forestry campaign, 'Forests for a Bright Future', is a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Irish Forest Industry Chain (IFIC). The purpose of the campaign is to highlight the income, employment, energy, environmental and amenity advantages of forestry to farm families, rural areas and the national economy. The launch in Mullingar for the Longford/Westmeath region is the latest in a series of regional launches that have been taking place over the past few months.

During her address, Minister Wallace quoted a recent study carried out by UCD which found that for every 100 jobs created in the forestry sector an extra 90 full time equivalent jobs are created elsewhere. The Minister said that the same study also suggests that the total contribution of forestry to the economy is of the order of ?1.6 bn annually.

The Minister went on to say "Forest cover in Ireland is just over 10% of total land area. This is low compared with the European average of around 35%. Longford has almost 8,000 hectares of forests which is close to 8% of the land area. Westmeath has over 12,000 hectares or just over 7% of the total land area of the county under forests. Clearly, possibilities exist in this region for increased afforestation".

The Minister sees forestry "as a 'real' alternative land use option, which will become increasingly important over time as the pattern of traditional Irish agriculture and land use changes".

The Minister urged all farmers in the area to seriously consider the forestry option and concluded by stating that "forestry can support the maintenance of viable farm households and the wider rural economy".

2 October, 2006

Date Released: 02 October 2006