Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Questions (607)

Michael Lowry

Question:

607. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 362 of 30 June 2021, the minimum level of annual afforestation necessary from 2021 to ensure the entire estate does not become a temporary source of carbon (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37389/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Ireland's National Forest Accounting Plan (NFAP) 2019 reported a decline in the national forest sink and transition to a net emission for the period 2034, 2036 and 2037. The entire estate then becomes a net removal increasing to 3MtCO2 eq. per year by 2050. These projections are based on an afforestation rate of 8,000 ha per year, business as usual forest management practice and levels of harvest as specified in the COFORD All-Ireland Roundwood Forecast.

The changes in the forest sink overtime are due to a number of factors, which include high rates of afforestation achieved in earlier decades, a projected increase in sustainable harvest and future deforestation that may occur. When examining the existing forest estate, it is important that afforestation continues over the next decade and beyond to ensure that the forest estate remains a net sink out to 2050. Carbon modelling estimates suggest that an afforestation level of approximately 12,000 hectares per year would reduce the impact of the entire estate being a source towards 2035. However, this is also dependent on future levels of deforestation, harvest and forest management practices.

Although the historical age class legacy has a temporary negative influence on the National forest sink, the NFAP demonstrates that forest sinks are maintained into the second half of this century as required under the Paris agreement.