Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Questions (391)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

391. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a scheme that encourages landowners to plant trees into hedgerows in order to increase the levels of forestry that does not require prime agricultural land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40833/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department's Afforestation Grant and Premium scheme is the States principal measure for increasing national forest cover. Under the current Forestry Programme 2014 -2020, the aim is establish 44,000 hectares of new forests. The Department encourages farmers to incorporate forestry into their farming mix so that agricultural production can continue alongside timber production.

In doing so the Department has introduced planting types that may be more suitable to farmers such as agroforestry and forestry for fibre. Agroforestry allows farmers to plant trees and allow their animals graze this land at the same time. Forestry for fibre supports the growing of trees such as eucalyptus and poplar that can be harvested for firewood after just 15 years, much shorter than traditional forestry which has a rotation of 35 - 40 years. There are no plans under the afforestation scheme to plant trees into hedgerows.

It is worth noting that the Department implemented two targeted Agri-Environment schemes since 2010 which included the planting of new hedgerows and native trees. Under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS), which opened in 2010, some 581,000 trees were planted under the Broadleaved Tree Planting measure and circa 1,653,000 metres of hedgerow established under the Planting New Hedgerows measure. Under the current Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) some 1,661,000 trees have been planted under the Planting a Grove of Native Trees measure and circa 1,201,000 metres of hedgerow established under the Planting a New Hedgerow measure.