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Forestry Sector

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (376)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

376. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated number of applicants for the new European Association of Guarantee Institutions who will afforest a part of their farm under the next CAP based on the GLAS and REAP schemes in the current CAP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58157/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I understand that the Deputy may actually be referring to the AECM (which appears to an acronym for the European Association of Guarantee Institutions).

AECM means, in the context of the draft regulation for the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) period, an agri-environment-climate measure and is the working title of a proposed intervention included in Ireland’s draft CAP Strategic Plan (CSP).

The draft CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 and associated Environmental Report and Natura Impact Statement have been published on my Department’s website and members of the public and stakeholders are invited to make a written submission or observation on them by 8 December 2021.

As you will note for the draft Plan, significant tree-planting measures are proposed for inclusion in the AECM, including agro-forestry and riparian planting. This will help deliver co-benefits, along with, for water quality and biodiversity.

As the Deputy may be aware, Project Woodland was launched in February this year and one of its key objectives is the creation of a shared national vision for trees and forests and Ireland and the development of a new Forest Strategy.

This includes an extensive and inclusive public consultation exercise, which has commenced, and I would like to invite everybody with an interest in forestry in Ireland to actively contribute to this consultation process.

The measures that will be taken to make the sector more attractive to new entrants will be discussed as part of this consultation process and the development of the new Forest Strategy, which will be the enabler of the short term goals of the next National Forestry Programme, which is due to commence in 2023.

The new Forestry Programme will focus on the importance of climate smart forestry and new afforestation will be encouraged in pursuit of commercial, climate, water, and biodiversity objectives.

Due to the long-term nature of forestry, it is considered the best option to continue to deliver the forestry programme entirely separately from the CAP Strategic Plan, subject to new State aid rules rather than the requirements of the CSP regulations.

The interlinkages between the CAP Strategic Plan and the new Forestry Programme are well understood. These two significant programmes will provide the mechanisms to deliver for farmers, rural communities and for society as a whole.

Both the AECM and the schemes to be made available under the Forestry Programme will be voluntary and therefore solely at the discretion of farmers, so it is not possible to say how many farmers will avail of these options.

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