Stick to conifers, advises IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Michael Fleming, who has welcomed EU approval for the forestry programme, and the Government’s commitment to invest €482 million over the next seven years.
“The forest premium rate has been maintained, with higher annual premiums, but over a 15-year period.
“The front-loading of the premium will suit some, and will also encourage farmers to thin plantations earlier”, said Mr Fleming.
He advised anyone considering planting to talk to their local Forest Service inspector or Teagasc forestry advisor, or to contact their local IFA farm forestry representative, if they would like to talk to farmers that have planted trees.
“If farmers are planting for commercial reasons, I would advise them to plant conifers, as the markets for broadleaves are limited, and the returns are unknown,” said Mr Fleming. He also said the new Agro-Forestry and Forestry for Fibre schemes are untested from a commercial perspective.
Tom Hayes, the junior agriculture minister with responsibility for forestry, has said agroforestry allows grazing of livestock alongside forestry, and forestry for fibre gives the option to harvest after ten to 15 years, rather than 30 or 40 years.
He said forestry programme targets include establishing 44,000 hectares of new forests and building almost 700km of new forest roads, and the general aim is to put forestry on marginal land which may not be productive for livestock.
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