Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett has announced the members of the project board that will oversee the recently announced new forestry strategy, Project Woodland.

The first meeting of the board was held yesterday (Wednesday, March 10), after which Minister Hackett said: “The speed with which the project board and the chairs of the working groups have come together is a clear indication of the sense of urgency and commitment which my department and stakeholders are bringing.

“We must both resolve current difficulties in the forestry sector and revitalise the creation of woodland in Ireland. I believe that this project, with its dedicated project management structure, will help us do that,” she added.

Project Woodland can only deliver if everyone pulls together and I am very much looking forward to the stakeholder working groups having their first meetings in the very near future.

The overall project board will consist of: department secretary general Brendan Gleeson (acting as the board chairperson); Scottish forestry expert Jo O’Hara (who drafted the report that led to the creation of Project Woodland); and two external members with experience in project governance, Jerry Grant (a chartered engineer) and Sarah O’Shea (a qualified solicitor).

Meanwhile, the four individual working groups (which each are responsible for addressing a specific ‘workstream’ of the project) will be chaired by: Michael Cantwell (former director of Enterprise Ireland); Dr. Matt Crowe (former director of the Environmental Protection Agency); Prof. Thia Hennessy (UCC); and Michael Layde (former assistant secretary general at the Department of the Environment).

The four ‘workstreams’ that are covered by these four working groups are: reducing backlogs; developing a shared national approach; improving organisational development in the department; and improving the licencing process in the future.

The four working groups will also contain sector stakeholders.

Minister Hackett noted that the project board agreed yesterday that the working groups should convene “immediately”.