Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (379)

Jackie Cahill


379. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will introduce proposals to reward financially landowners who have their lands planted with forestry to take into account the fact that their lands are acting as carbon sinks and helping the State to achieve its climate change targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38318/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The current model adopted by Ireland to increase forest cover is to provide funding to landowners to cover 100% of the costs of establishing forests and to provide annual premiums to encourage land owners to make this land use change. In addition, tax free incentives are provided when timber is sold and other grant aid provided to construct forest roads. Other models without the use of significant grant aid could have been explored but the State has chosen to fund forestry programmes since the 1990's with a combination of grants and premiums, tax incentives and other supports to assist landowners in the management of their plantations. The continuation of this model over successive Forestry Programmes since 1990 has been the favoured option of all of the relevant stakeholders also.

This model has resulted in the payment of some €2.4billion directly to farmers by the State since 1990.

The current Forestry Programme is 100% exchequer funded and as such it is governed by rules set out under the "European Union Guidelines for State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas 2014 to 2020". With regard to afforestation, these rules provide for annual premium payments to cover agricultural income forgone and maintenance; they do not provide for payments for carbon.