Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ceisteanna (201, 202)

John Halligan

Ceist:

201. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way he intends to maintain a sustainable forest strategy in the event that the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21888/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

202. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way he intends to maintain a sustainable forest strategy in the event that the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21889/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

I wish to stress that it is a concession for the harvesting rights which is being considered for sale. In order to preserve the forest estate, my Department’s long-standing policy is that replanting should take place following harvesting apart from exceptional circumstances. The replanting obligation is one of the issues that have been identified in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. While the consideration process is at an advanced stage, no decision has been taken, as yet.

In relation to maintaining a sustainable forest strategy, in addition to the replanting policy, the Forest Service of my Department promotes afforestation, on an ongoing basis, as a viable land use for landowners through the provision of planting grants and payment of annual premiums. A total of €112 million in funding for capital and current expenditure was allocated for the overall forestry programme in 2013, to facilitate the payment for close to 7,000 hectares of new planting this year.