Written Answers. - National Broadleaf Forest Resource.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

152 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the plans he has to implement the recommendation of the Enterprise Ireland 1995 broadleaf task force which was established to maximise the national broadleaf forest resource in the context of its commercial, environmental and recreational potential. [7651/01]

The Government approved strategic plan for the development of the forestry sector in Ireland, Growing for the Future, which was published in 1996, provides a long-term framework for the expansion of the sector from nurseries through to timber product industries and encompasses a range of related issues such as fostering of sustainable development, the creation of added-value, the development of new competence and skills and the generation of multiple benefit returns. Significantly, the plan also provides for increasing the national forest estate to 17% of available land by 2030.

The broadleaf task force reported on how best to maximise the national broadleaf forest resource in the context of its commercial, environmental and recreational potential and submitted its recommendations for consideration in the formulation of Growing for the Future. These recommendations are reflected throughout the strategic plan in the context of greater broadleaf utilisation, further research, greater promotion and public awareness of broadleaves.

In overall terms, it is planned during the period of the rural development plan to increase planting of broadleaves from 20% at present to 30% by 2006. In this regard, the grant and premium schemes have been revised with a view to encouraging increased broadleaf planting.