Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (36)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

36. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of grants for forestry development awarded to entities here over the past five years; the size of forestry development for each grant awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51120/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme is a voluntary State-funded programme which supports and attracts a wide range of recipients; farmers, non-farmers, partnerships and companies annually. The vast majority however of forest owners are farmers and there is no distinction in terms of payment rates between farmers and non-farmers. The profile of non-farmers also includes retired farmers or their family members who wish to maintain a continuing connection to the land. For this reason, it is clear that the annual premiums received by beneficiaries largely stay within rural communities and are an important contribution to the economic vitality of these communities.

The average size of plantation in 2018 is just over 6 hectares and is around 9 hectares since 1980. Obviously there are variations from plantation to plantation and it very much depends on the wishes of the landowner at the time. The number of newly established forestry plantations, for a single entity, that received grants under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme from 2013-2017 are as follows:

Year

Number of entities

Total Area

2013

889

6251.92

2014

933

6155.78

2015

919

6292.65

2016

951

6499.28

2017

817

5535.59

The Government is committed to afforestation and the Forestry Programme 2014 -2020 is 100% exchequer funded. It represents a State investment in the forestry sector of some €482m over the duration of the Programme. The Programme is a major contributor to climate change mitigation and to Government rural development policy, and makes an important contribution to the economy. This contribution to the national economy is currently estimated at €2.3 billion annually after both direct and induced effects are taken into account, and it provides sustainable rural employment for up to 12,000 jobs.