Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Donegal Forestry.

asked the Minister for Lands if he will state how many acres of forestry have been planted in the County of Donegal during the last five years; and whether, in view of the enormous tracts of land available, it is his intention to increase the present rate of planting.

An area of 778 acres in County Donegal has been planted for State forestry purposes during the last five years. It is intended to increase the rate of planting as rapidly as possible, but this depends to a large extent upon the areas of suitable land available. Unfortunately the bulk of the land offered for sale to the forestry division in County Donegal is quite unsuitable for economic forestry.

I am afraid I cannot agree with the Minister's answer regarding the unsuitability of the land. I would like the Minister to realise the importance of this matter in regard to winter employment for rural areas, not to speak of the ultimate benefit of having woods scattered throughout the country. I would like the Minister to bear that strongly in mind.

Mr. Boland

I do not think there is any necessity to ask that. Those in a position to judge say that the bulk of the land offered in Donegal for forestry purposes is unsuitable, but we have increased our rate of planting from 54 acres to 325 acres last year, and the rate will be increased further if it is found possible.

Will the Minister agree that it is a very small acreage for a county of such size?

Mr. Boland

I agree.