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Wallace marks the beginning of Tree Week by highlighting the benefits of forestry

Speaking at a tree planting function in Lough Bracken Wood, Co. Meath, today to mark National Tree Week, Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry, congratulated the Tree Council of Ireland on the organisation of so many different activities for National Tree Week and commented "with over 300 events organised around the country, ranging from forest walks, seminars, workshops, exhibitions and tree planting ceremonies, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in an event in their local area".

Minister of State Wallace added that it was important that people avail of such opportunities to become aware of, and appreciate, the importance of forestry and the many benefits derived from forestry. She pointed to the example of Lough Bracken Wood, a popular place for local recreational use. It has been developed with the cooperation of Meath County Council the Fisheries Board, Coillte and the local community. Located adjacent to a spring lake (Lough Bracken) that serves the local community, the woodland demonstrates the ability of forestry and woodland to provide recreational and environmental benefits side by side.

On the subject of forestry and the environment, Minister of State Wallace pointed to recent developments in that area with the introduction of the innovative Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS). This scheme gives farmers who are in the popular REPS scheme (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) an opportunity to further increase the environmental quality of their holding by planting some forestry. They can then avail of up to €200 per hectare on top of the existing relevant forestry payments bringing the total amount available up to a maximum of €774 per hectare, tax-free.

The Minister also pointed out that as part of Tree Week she has launched an initiative to distribute educational posters to over 3000 primary schools which highlight the different varieties of native trees to be found throughout Ireland.

The Minister of State will be attending a number of events over National Tree Week including the National Renewable Energy Conference 2007, to be held over two days in Dunboyne Castle, Dunboyne, Co. Meath, on Tuesday 6th March, and Clonmel Park Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, on Wednesday 7th March. As her attendance at the conference is during National Tree Week, Minister of State Wallace will also plant a tree at each location to mark the Week.

She will also address the National Forestry Conference being held in the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise, on Friday 9th March.

National Tree Week, Seachtain Náisiúnta na gCrann, runs from 4th to 10th March.

5 March, 2007

Date Released: 05 March 2007