Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (616)

Tom Fleming


616. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider reintroducing the reforestation grants and take into account the fact that several forests were badly damaged during the recent storms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22937/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The storm earlier in the year has indeed been damaging to Irish forests particularly in the south of the country. In order to establish the most appropriate response for forest owners and the forest industry a taskforce, chaired by Mr Tom Hayes TD, Minister of State, and comprising of the Irish Forest and Forest Products Association, the Irish Timber Growers Association, the Irish Farmers Association, Coillte Teoranta and Teagasc has been put in place to assess the damage nationally and to identify the various issues arising.

The taskforce has issued a guidance note for forest owners, laying down the steps to consider in safely harvesting and selling the fallen trees and giving advice on a range of other associated issues. Teagasc, in association with Coillte and my Department recently held two very successful events on managing storm damage in farm forests. These events were attended by over 400 forest owners. Teagasc forestry advisers continue to be available to discuss the issue with forest owners affected. Forest owners are also urged to get professional advice from qualified foresters to guide them through this process. Whilst direct financial support is not being provided to those whose forests were destroyed in the storm, I can confirm that any premium payments that have not yet been paid for 2014 will be paid even if these forests have been affected by this windblow event.