Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Ceisteanna (226)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

226. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 1137 of 8 May 2019, the reason there was such a large underspend in each year of the woodland improvement scheme since it was established. [25790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The funding for the Woodland Improvement Scheme is included in the total budget allocated to Forestry Support Schemes. This allocation includes funding for Forest Road Works, Reconstitution, NeighbourWood and Native Woodland Conservation Schemes.

Earlier this year, my colleague Minister of State Doyle launched a second Intervention under the Woodland Improvement Scheme. This updates the scheme to include two thinning interventions for all broadleaf and broadleaf mixed forests. Grant rates are €750 per hectare for the first intervention and €500 per hectare for the second. To date this year, we have received 67 WIS1 applications and 150 WIS2 applications.

It is worth noting that all forestry schemes are voluntary and demand-led and, therefore, spending is dependent on applications received, approved, contracts fulfilled and payments issued in any given year. As can be seen from the following table, spending on the Woodland Improvement Scheme has increased year-on-year since 2014, with the exception of 2018. The trend this year is encouraging with an 83% increase in the number of hectares thinned and tended this year compared to the same period last year, which is reflected in a similar increase in expenditure to date this year.

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 to date

WIS Expenditure

€76,118

€497,093

€614,993

€632,271

€458,371

€319,832