Native woodlands conference marks two decades of work

A conference focusing on the country’s native woodlands will mark two decades of work restoring, managing and creating new native woodlands in Ireland.

The conference – entitled ’20 Years A-Growing’ – was formally opened today (Monday, April 30) by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle.

Organised by Woodlands of Ireland, the conference is taking place today and tomorrow at the Glenview Hotel, Delgany, Co. Wicklow.

Addressing the conference, Minister Doyle said: “As native woodlands are an important part of Ireland’s natural heritage, history and culture – and are unique in terms of their biodiversity – it is appropriate that we focus today on that element of Irish forestry.

“We must also bear in mind the other important ecosystem services provided by our native woodlands, such as water and soil protection, wider habitat linkage and carbon sequestration.

I am not underestimating their economic potential as a source of quality hardwood, renewable energy and other wood and non-wood products, and the social and recreational benefits we derive from them.

The conference schedule includes presentations by leading Irish and international experts on the management and issues relating to native woodlands, panel discussions and field excursions.

At the conference, the minister also launched a new initiative called ‘Woodland for Water’.

The initiative – which is part of the department’s response to the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021 – aims to use woodlands and forests to proactively contribute to improving Irish waters, Minister Doyle added.

Concluding, he said: “One of the principal objectives of the forestry programme is to increase the level of broadleaves and the department has worked closely with Woodlands of Ireland and other stakeholders in a partnership format over the past 20 years or so to develop policies and measures to improve the level and quality of our native woodlands.”