Thursday, 28 September 2017
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
232. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on proposals by an organisation (details supplied) of a five point plan to revitalise farm forestry in view of the fact that Ireland is failing to meet its forestry targets and address the barriers that exist to planting. [41200/17]
I note the points raised in proposals by the named organisation and the challenges of reaching forestry targets. Planting figures for 2015 and 2016 combined actually exceed the targets set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 -2020. My Department is currently involved in a detailed midterm review of the Forestry Programme and is engaging with stakeholders in its development.
It is important to note that my Department each year has provided sufficient budget to fund afforestation stated targets. However it is quite clear that there is intense competition for planting land driven by a number of different factors not least expansion in other agricultural sectors and this is affecting demand.
I am convinced that forestry remains an extremely attractive option for landowners and can serve as a complementary income stream for farmers. This is because the Department funds 100% of the cost of establishing the new forest and guarantees an annual premium of up to €249 per acre (€615 per hectare) payable each year for 15 years. Forestry is also compatible with other agriculture schemes and farmers can continue to receive their Basic Payment on land which is also planted.
It is important now that the benefits of the schemes are clearly communicated and well understood by landowners. Minister of State Andrew Doyle has established a group jointly with industry to specifically examine the marketing and promotion of the schemes and this group has met once already and will meet again next week. This group will come forward with a series of initiatives in the very near future on communicating the benefits of forestry to farmers to ensure that landowners are considering forestry as a viable land use option.