Minister Doyle opens Brussels event on the Future of Plantation Forests in Europe

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D today opened a high-level conference in Brussels organised by the European Forest Institute (EFI) to discuss the future of plantation forests in Europe. The event is part of a series of “Think Forest” events which the Institute organise to stimulate discussion on a range of forest topics.

Minister Doyle speaking at the event today said “Although plantation forests form approximately only 7% of the world forests, they supply over a third of the world’s timber. It is important to recognise the multiple benefits provided by different types of forests and the important role they play in the production of timber as well as providing multiple ecosystem services.”

The discussion on plantation forests also provided the platform for Minister Doyle to welcome the launch of a new study by the EFI titled, “Plantation forests in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities”.  The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine provide funding to the EFI which contributes to development studies in a range of important areas. This study draws on recently published scientific research and four case studies (Ireland, Sweden, Italy and Georgia), to ask if plantation forestry is currently meeting its full potential to deliver European environmental and socio-economic policy. It identifies what science can tell us about designing and managing forest plantations, their use to meet society’s future needs and sets out the major policy implications. European forests are facing new demands such as mitigating climate change, providing goods and services, generating jobs and acting as a source of fuel and materials. Forestry is also expected to play a major part in supplying the feedstock and services required to develop an innovative, sustainable bioeconomy. Plantation forests can play a key role in meeting these objectives.

Minister Doyle also welcomed the new European Green Deal announced last week and stated that it “resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate change and sets out a pathway of increasing ambition to create a better future. Forests will continue to be part of that journey but we must ensure that we continue to be vigilant in the light of increasing threats and diseases. We must continue to work together to share our knowledge and support forums that encourage debate, and challenge the way we think about forests.”

The Minister concluded that “It is also important that we continue to share knowledge between foresters and researchers. Evidenced-based research must continue to inform forest policy.  We also need to make the wider public aware of the important roles that forests contribute to society and the public good.”