The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with responsibility for forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett, today launched the Sustainable Development and Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources 2020-2030.

Welcoming the publication, which is prepared by members of the COFORD Council’s Forest Genetic Resources Working Group, the minister said: “Forests are so important in the battle against climate change. But they must be healthy, resilient forests. That is why this report is so welcome.

“It sets out a strategy to ensure factors such as genetic resources and the sustainable supply of seeds are mobilised to increase the adaptive capacity of our forests.”

The COFORD Council is a body appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to advise the minister and his department on issues related to the development of the forest sector in Ireland. Its membership is appointed by the minister and comprises stakeholders from across the forestry sector.

Protection of resources

The report is a strategy to ensure genetic resources are protected between 2020 and 2030 and sets out a sustainable pathway for the future.

It brings together a full appraisal of current and past efforts, the potential impacts of climate change and other risks, and the requirements for the development of forest genetics resources and for gene conservation.

It goes through the steps required for the genetic conservation of tree species and it also outlines the roles of agencies and organisations involved in forest genetic resources as well as the importance of coordination and implementation.

Making the point that maintaining and ensuring the survival of forests is critical, the minister continued: “Forest genetic resources are integral to the successful development of our forests.

Well adapted and carefully sourced reproductive material, suited to Ireland’s soils and growing environments, are the building blocks for the expansion of the forest estate and for its continual regeneration. They are fundamental to providing the long-term economic, environmental and societal benefits that forests provide.

“The group [Forest Genetic Resources Working Group], comprising a broad range of experts and stakeholders, is to be congratulated on reaching consensus on the future direction in forest genetic resources,” the minister concluded.

Dr. Eugene Hendrick on behalf of the COFORD Council said: “The COFORD council and associated working groups provide a wide range of evidence-based advice which helps to inform forest policy.

“The report being launched by the minister provides the roadmap for the creation of increasingly well adapted, resilient and productive forests, and for the vital work in conservation of forest genetic diversity.”