Reaffirms her commitment to developing new strategy and vision for forestry in Ireland

Provides update on improvements in forestry licencing approval rates

The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett has welcomed the news that the EU Commission has agreed to an extension of the state aid approval for the Ireland’s National Forestry Programme for 2021.

Acknowledging the importance of the extension, the Minister said, “This is good news which will provide assurance to those who wish to apply for grants under the current forestry programme.  The extension was necessary as there were delays in issuing new EU guidelines for state aid in the agriculture and forestry sector, but this gives legal certainty for the continuation of the programme.   I am pleased to have secured it in time for 2021  and I would like to thank the Commission for agreeing to my request for an extension.”

The Minister also spoke about the scope the extension provides her for delivering a new model for forestry. Commenting, she stated, “This extended period gives us a much needed opportunity to look afresh at forestry in Ireland. We know we need to build and improve on the existing model to provide ecosystem services, income, jobs and recreational opportunities as well as contributing to our challenging environmental goals. I want to oversee the design of that model and am fully committed to the consultation with all stakeholders which will help inform a new Forest Strategy and deliver a sustainable forestry programme.”

She added, “From my first day in office, resolving forestry issues has been one of my top political priorities. Clearly, we still have some way to go to meet the ambition we have set ourselves but I intend to build on the momentum we have created so that we not only increase the number of licences issued to land and forest owners in the months ahead, but we also design a model of woodland creation which works for all.”

Providing updates on the current position on forestry planting and licencing, the Minister also said, “A well-functioning licensing system is the bedrock of any successful forestry programme and we are continuing to invest heavily in the licensing process so that we can deliver the service that stakeholders expect. I appreciate that the challenges to the existing system means that 2020 was a difficult year for many in the sector and I know we have some way to go with the current system but the trend is encouraging and has continued into the new year.  I believe that the recent improvements allied to the confirmed extension of our schemes for another year means that we can look forward to 2021 with more hope for forestry in Ireland. I will continue to engage intensively with all interested stakeholders on these issues.”