Hackett hosts first meeting of Forestry Policy Group

Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett has this afternoon (Thursday, November 26) hosted the first meeting of the newly-formed Forestry Policy Group.

The meeting was attended by a wide range of stakeholders, including Teagasc; the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA); the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI); among several others.

Speaking after the session, Minister Hackett said: “The Programme for Government sets out an ambitious agenda for Irish forestry. But if we are to deliver on it, all those who share the common goal of developing a sustainable forestry model must share their perspectives, trust each other and work together.

I have established this new group to facilitate that process and I am happy to say that even after our first meeting, notwithstanding the current challenges faced by many in the sector, I am greatly encouraged by the determination of all to build a consensus on what forestry in Ireland should, and will, look like in the future.

The new group is made up of members from a range of organisations from the forestry sector, as well as environmental NGOs and representatives from community, farmer and grower groups. State bodies are also involved in the group.

The agenda for today’s meeting included presentations on the history and implementation of the current Forestry Programme.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said that individual members of the policy group had the opportunity to “share their vision for forestry, as well as their perspectives on how the group should work, and what its terms of reference should be”.

Participants also got a preview of the new ‘forestry licence viewer’, the first phase of which will be launched next Tuesday (December 1).

Today also saw a presentation from Jo O’Hara, a forestry expert who has been appointed to advise Minister Hackett on the implementation of the Mackinnon Report into the forestry licencing system.

O’Hara told the group that the situation in Ireland is “challenging” but that she looked forward to putting the recommendations in the report into practice.