€482M OF NEW INVESTMENT IN FORESTRY
44,000HA OF NEW FORESTS, 700KM OF NEW FOREST ROADS
20% HIGHER PREMIUM PAYMENTS, 5% HIGHER AFFORESTATION GRANTS, 14% HIGHER ROAD GRANTS
NEW SPECIES WITH ROTATIONS OF 10-15 YEARS
MORE NATIVE TREES
Tom Hayes, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Forestry, announced that the Government has secured State Aid approval for the new Forestry Programme covering the period 2014 – 2020. This follows a long and detailed process of negotiation with the European Commission, culminating in a meeting between Minister Hayes and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to resolve the remaining issues.
Welcoming the approval, Minister Hayes commented that “the new Forestry Programme will involve a commitment of €482 million, this scale of investment will have a real impact in rural communities right across Ireland and it will go a long way towards achieving the Government’s aim for balanced regional development.”
The new programme introduces a number of important structural and design changes. Minister Hayes said that “restructuring forestry schemes so that they present real options for landowners in terms of generating alternative sources of income has been an important objective of my Department and one which was factored into the design of the programme from the outset.”
These changes will prove attractive to those landowners not previously interested in forestry. For example, a new single rate of premium has been introduced for farmers and non farmers. The new agro forestry and forestry for fibre measures are targeted specifically at farmers providing them with options for grazing livestock alongside forestry and in the case of forestry for fibre, harvesting timber after 10-15 years rather than 30-40 years as is the case with other types of forestry.
One of the principal drivers behind this investment decision is the huge potential that exists for expansion in the Forestry Sector. “The Forestry sector contributes €2.3 billion to GDP annually and employs 12,000 people. My Department’s analysis shows that the opportunity exists to increase even further the contribution that forestry can make to Ireland’s economy” added Minister Hayes.
The Minister concluded by thanking the stakeholders for their contributions during the drafting stages of the programme saying that “the programme represents a balanced outcome which puts forestry development on a sustainable path for the coming six years.”