Planting 43,000 hectares of new forest and building 690 km of new forest roads is targeted in the 2015-2020 forestry programme.
The Government has approved the programme spending of €262 million, and a further €220m in future commitments from 2020, mostly in premium payments.
It is “a vote of confidence in an industry which contributed €2.3 billion to GDP in 2012,” said Tom Hayes, , Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for forestry.
Compared to an original programme proposal circulated in September, 2014, the forest premiums are 20% higher, and establishment grants have increased 5%.
Roads will be supported at a rate of €40 per linear metre.
Premium rates range from €180 to €635 per hectare.
The new programme includes €7m for protection and enhancement of Irish native woodlands. Almost 2,000 hectares will be eligible for this support, including “Emergent Native Woodlands” which can be conserved and enriched, and grown to high forest.
However, the forestry programme is subject to approval by the EU of Ireland’s application for State Aid approval.
Details of the programme are at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/publicconsultation/newforestryprogramme2014-2020/ on the Department of Agriculture website.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has emphasised the significant role forestry plays in climate change mitigation, welcoming EU recognition of this role in the European Council’s conclusions in October, which noted the role afforestation could play in carbon sequestration.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved