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Minister of State Mary Wallace receives report aimed at increasing Forestry Planting

Ms Mary Wallace TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Forestry, has received the report aimed at identifying issues and actions to enhance the current Government support for forestry planting. The report is entitled Factors Affecting Afforestation in Ireland in Recent Years (doc 223Kb) , and was prepared by Mr John Malone, former Secretary General of the Department.

The Report recognises the competing demands of the different types of land use including forestry in Ireland and the increasing importance of forestry in developing sustainable economic, energy, environmental and climate change policies for the country into the future. Renewed promotion of this important asset is important and having flexible support schemes as attractive as possible relative to other options is emphasised.

Speaking at the presentation of the report at Agriculture House, the Minister of State said: "I welcome this report which addresses the current factors impacting on the decision to plant and makes a series of recommendations that I look forward to examining in detail with a view to implementation."

Turning to the recommendations, the Minister noted in particular the call for more research on environmental issues, the need to re-visit the absolute requirement to re-plant following felling, the possibility of a more targeted policy, rather than the nationally operated one as at present. In relation to the recommendation to adjust the Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS), the Minister referred to her recent amendments to the scheme to make forestry more attractive to farmers already in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). These included a reduction in the minimum qualifying size to five hectares (for farms with less than 30 hectares) and in relation to bigger farms, the removal of the tiered payment system in favour of a flat rate FEPS premium of €200 per hectare for planted areas of eight hectares or more, regardless of the farm size.

The Minister complimented Mr Malone on such a wide-ranging report produced in such a short space of time. She thanked all who had co-operated in this work and said that she would reflect on each of the 18 recommendations in consultation with Minister Mary Coughlan and wanted to move quickly to action on what was acceptable and possible.

Date Released: 06 March 2008