The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Forest Service have urged farmers and those in the rural community to have their say on future forest plans for two in the west of Northern Ireland.

The areas being reviewed stretch from Strabane to Caledon and Moneymore to Kesh. These engagements are part of a process where all eight Forestry Planning Areas in Northern Ireland are being reviewed.

Calling on the farming community to respond to the engagement, planning forester, Breandan Mulholland, said: “Forestry planning facilitates the delivery of the many services our forests and woodlands provide, such as timber production, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and recreational opportunities.

Reviewing forest plans ensures that they are up to date and allows us to monitor our forests to enable them to continue to meet the diverse, and sometimes competing, needs of people, wildlife and wood processing industries.

“With an estimated forest cover of around 31,150ha in the areas being reviewed, forests and woodlands are a significant part of the rural landscape and economy.

“Over half of these forests and woodlands are non-Forest Service managed and comprise of nearly 5,000 separate woodlands mainly smaller than 1ha in size which are scattered throughout the farming landscape.

“The Forest Service seeks greater involvement of people in the revision of its forest plans that will consider Forest Service forests and include references to non-Forest Service forests and woodlands,” Mulholland added.

The farming community can help by telling the service what is important to them in relation to forests and woodlands.

“Forests are a vital natural resource which belong to us all, and it is particularly important that those living and working in the rural community have their say on the development of forest plans.”

The consultation runs until September 27, 2019.