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Afforestation Programme.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ceisteanna (81)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

78 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the initiatives that he is undertaking to promote farmer participation in forestry in view of the new opportunities presented by the emerging wood energy sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12030/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

My Department promotes the planting of new forests through a range of attractive support measures — the Afforestation Grant Scheme, the Forest Environment Protection Scheme and the Native Woodland Scheme. These schemes provide 100% establishment grants and annual premiums for up to 20 years. In addition, my Department also provides grants to encourage forest owners to actively manage their forests and improve the quality of the final crop. The increased allocation for forestry in the 2010 Budget will facilitate a higher level of planting, in the region of 7,000 hectares this year and is evidence of the Government's continued commitment to forestry.

My Department also provided start-up funding to a number of initiatives around the country aimed at encouraging local farmer foresters to work together to manage their plantations and to market the timber produced. Projects in South Kerry, Clare, Galway, Cork, Donegal and the South East received funding. The groups focused on different aspects of the forestry chain. For instance the Donegal group set up a cooperative to manage the members' woodlands and to market the timber produced while South Kerry and Clare concentrated on creating a demand for wood energy by promoting the installation of biomass boilers by large energy users in their local area and creating a reliable woodchip supply chain. The Forestry Development Unit of Teagasc has played a significant role in the development of these producer groups and I understand that it is planned to develop further groups in the future.

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