‘2019 planting rates already up on 2018 levels’ – Doyle

Andrew Doyle, the Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, has held a meeting to review the implementation of the National Forestry Programme.

The meeting, held yesterday (Tuesday, March 12), was the third sit-down of the Forestry Implementation Group, which meets quarterly to review the programme.

The group features stakeholders from the forestry sector, producers, the ‘Environmental Pillar’ (comprising environmental NGO’s) and state bodies.

During the “wide-ranging discussion”, the minister provided updates to the group on the recently announced Sustainable Forestry Management Scheme.

Minister Doyle highlighted that the Woodland Improvement Scheme had doubled in applications compared to the same time 12 months ago, after a second ‘thinning grant’ was introduced.

Furthermore, the minister pointed out that 50% of the expected applications for the new Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) initiative had been received just in its first six weeks.

The meeting also heard that broadleaf planting had increased by 25% in 2018, and now stands at 28% of all planting.

These meetings are an important forum both for updating stakeholders, and also for an exchange of views and ideas on the implementation of the National Forestry Programme.

Minister Doyle also committed to increasing five-fold the applications for the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme by the end of the forestry programme; this is in response to the recent National Biodiversity Conference, where the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine committed to supporting biodiversity.

He claimed that there had been a “strong response” to the department’s call for proposals on the “multi-functional benefits” of forestry; 40 such proposals have been received and are now being evaluated.

“The programme continues to evolve, and the effects of the changes that were made under the 2018 mid-term review are really starting to be seen, particularly the planting of broadleaf trees,” said Minister Doyle.

I’m particularly thrilled at the immediate uptake of the CCF measures and the doubling in uptake of our Woodland Improvement Scheme.

“We have conducted a review of the first year of the Knowledge Transfer Programme for farmers with forestry, and found that the scheme was well received,” he claimed.

He concluded; “Planting rates under the forestry programme to date this year are showing an increase on last year, but I am well aware that we can and must do better, particularly if forestry is to continue to make its contribution to our environmental goals and rural economy.”