Farm Forestry chairman, Pat Lehane welcomed the announcement which followed a 31% increase in the 2004 forestry allocation as indicated by the recently published Book of Estimates.
Mr Lehane said due to lack of Government funding for this year’s forestry programme no farmer has received planting approval since last June.
“This long-awaited movement in approvals will be welcomed by farmers and the forestry sector alike, as we have already missed out on more than two months of the planting season.
“It will also mean that over 600 farmers who have been waiting since last year to plant should now be able to do so,” he said.
Mr Lehane urged Mr Walsh to bring back the essential supporting schemes and measures such as roads and reconstitution, suspended during 2003, so that farmers already in the scheme can maximise the return on their investment.
Mr Walsh said he was confident a viable planting programme could be achieved in 2004 with the increase in funding he has secured for the sector.
He said he wanted to assure landowners and investors the Government is committed to forestry as a viable industry.