Forestry Minister John Browne said Ireland has the highest growth rates for a range of tree species in Europe. This means that forestry can deliver real climate benefits, quickly, in this country.
National Tree Week, which continues until Friday, is organised by the Tree Council of Ireland and involves over 300 events including forest walks, tree-planting ceremonies and exhibitions.
Coillte has donated 15,000 trees, mainly the native holly, which will be distributed to schools and community groups by local authorities. Mr Browne said forest covers at 10% lag far behind the EU average of 35%. The extremely attractive package of grants and premiums as well as the single payment concession for forestry makes it a perfect time for farmers in particular to consider planting, he said.
“When we plant a tree we open a door to a range of benefits, all of which are positive and life-enhancing,” he said.
IFA president John Dillon said forestry premiums are worth in excess of €50m per annum tax-free to growers in rural areas. The deal on the table for farmers considering planting has never been better, he said.
Farmers can plant up to 50% of the average area they held in the reference period, get a 100% grant and a 20-year tax free premium on the planted land and still draw down full single farm payment entitlements on top of growing a valuable asset.