A Fianna Fáil councillor in Co. Kerry has called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to provide “increased grant funding to encourage afforestation of land presently lying idle”.

Councillor Michael Cahill said that in the interests of environmental sustainability and in the fight against global warming, “we must encourage the planting of more trees as they are a major player in carbon capture, required now to save this planet”.

Afforestation a ‘win win’

“The replanting of indigenous species will not alone be profitable for our own use, but also will help to save this planet,” the councillor told a recent meeting of Kerry County Council.

“We have many, many acres of land that are not productive at present for their owners and it it is not rocket science to work out that, through afforestation, we can create a ‘win win’ situation.

“Council-owned lands not suitable for development should also be utilised for this purpose.

“We know that trees are an efficient way of storing carbon and we simply need to provide suitable places to plant more and more of them.

“Land that is not suitable in supporting livestock or crops must be looked at and encouragement in the way of grant funding must be provided.”

‘Get this project moving’

The councillor added that the “sooner these trees are planted, the sooner they will contribute to carbon capture and we can make an impact on the Armageddon facing our world”.

“We shouldn’t even need to think about this. Just put attractive grant funding in place, and get this project moving.”

Kerry County Council responded to Cahill, noting that the “request to lobby the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine [DAFM] to provide increased grant funding for forestry schemes is a matter for resolution by the members”.

It added that the current DAFM Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme for private lands is in place since 2014.

“The primary objective of the scheme is to increase Ireland’s forest estate and, in doing so, to make progress towards increasing Ireland’s forest cover to 18%, establishing 10,000ha of new forests and woodlands per annum.

“However, not all lands are suitable to sustain forestry.”

The council said that under this scheme, set-up grants cover up to 100% of total costs. Grants of up to €6,220/ha are available for establishment, and an annual premium of up to €680/ha is available depending on species of tree.

The council said it is “at present looking to see if there are any suitable lands that might be suitable for inclusion in application” to the department under a forestry-related scheme.