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Wallace Highlights National Tree Week 2nd - 8th March 2008

Speaking at a tree planting ceremony at Ratoath Senior National School, Co. Meath, today to mark the forthcoming National Tree Week, Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for forestry, congratulated the Tree Council of Ireland on the organisation of so many varied and interesting activities for the annual National Tree Week. This year's National Tree Week, sponsored by Coillte and O2, will be held from 2nd to 8th March 2008.

The theme of this year's National Tree Week is 'Cuireann crainn uisce ar fáil don bheatha'/'Trees Water Life' which is a reflection not only of the cleansing and purifying effect trees have on the atmosphere but also the very positive effects trees can have on our waterways. Minister of State Wallace commented "The theme of this year's National Tree Week gives us the opportunity to appreciate the contribution that trees and woodlands rich in diversity make towards protecting our waterways and consequently towards water which is a vital ingredient for life".

The Minister of State encouraged local communities and local authorities to participate in some of the 300 or more events, which will take place around the country during the week. Events include forest walks, tree planting ceremonies, workshops, talks and competitions. The Minister also welcomed the sponsorship by Coillte of over 15,000 trees, which will be distributed to community groups all over the country through the local authorities all over Ireland.

Minister of State Wallace commented "While National Tree Week is a timely reminder of the environmental and social benefits of forestry, it is also an opportune time for farmers to examine the income opportunities that exist in forestry".

Under the Afforestation Scheme, administered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, there are 100% establishment grants available for the planting of the trees and an annual tax-free premium up to €574 per hectare for up to 20 years. An additional premium of up to €200 per hectare for five years is available to farmers in REPS who join the Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS) and plant part of their land in accordance with the provisions for forestry laid down in that scheme. The Minister of State added, "The attractiveness of the afforestation schemes on offer is an important factor in the decision to plant but farmers should also take into account the returns from the forest from thinnings and the final end value of the timber crop. In addition it must not be forgotten that under the Single Payment Scheme farmers can stack their entitlements and draw down their full Single Payment while planting up to 50% of their lands".

The Minister of State concluded by saying that "Investment in forestry does not result solely in environmental and social returns but also significant economic returns for the landowner, industry and the economy generally. In order to continue to reap these benefits into the future, it is vital to plant now".

11 February, 2008
Please note: Photographs are available on request.

Date Released: 11 February 2008