Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (285)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

285. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a series of matters in relation to Coillte Nature (details supplied). [26044/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte is a commercial State body under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It is operationally independent of my Department and I understand that they have responded to the issues raised which are within their remit, by letter dated 23rd July 2020, addressed to the Deputy.

I welcome the establishment of Coillte Nature in June 2019 and the recent launch of the Dublin Mountains Conversion Plan. One fifth of Coillte lands are currently managed with biodiversity as the primary objective and Coillte Nature has been established to deliver projects with a singular environmental focus, with the Dublin Mountains initiative being one of the four key projects currently being undertaken.

Coillte currently have applications in relation to the Dublin Mountains submitted to my Department under the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme aims to promote the protection and enhancement of Ireland's native woodlands and biodiversity by supporting the appropriate restoration of existing native woodlands and, where appropriate, the conversion of existing non-native forests to native woodland.

Coillte is converting part of the sitka spruce forests in the Dublin Mountains to native woodlands under the Dublin Mountains Conversion Plan. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme is designed to cover the cost above and beyond what standard reforestation would cost i.e. additional costs associated with reforesting with native species and other expenses such as extended periods of vegetation management, higher rates of tree mortality and the need for more expensive deer fencing.

In view of Ireland's commitments in relation to biodiversity, the restoration and conversion to native woodlands is to be encouraged. Initiatives such as those in the Dublin Mountains are an important contribution to our ongoing efforts to restore Ireland's native woodland resource.

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 283.