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EU money for forestry program in Ireland

Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with special responsibility for forestry announced that the Government has secured state aid approval for a new forestry program in Ireland. Source: Irish Farmers’ Journal

Highlights of the new program include €428 million of new investment in forestry which is 100% funded by the exchequer, 44,000ha of new forests and 700km of new forest roads, 20% higher premium payments, 5% higher afforestation grants, 14% higher road grants and more native trees.

Welcoming the approval, Minister Hayes said that: “this scale of investment will have a real impact in rural communities right across Ireland and it will go a long way towards achieving the Government’s aim for balanced regional development.”

Some of the changes included in the program will prove attractive to landowners not previously interested in forestry.

For example, a new single rate of premium has been introduced for farmers and non farmers.

The new agro forestry and forestry for fibre measures are targeted specifically at farmers providing them with options for grazing livestock alongside forestry and, in the case of forestry for fibre, harvesting timber after 10-15 years rather than 30-40 years as is the case with other types of forestry.

One of the principal drivers behind this investment decision is the huge potential that exists for expansion in the forestry sector.

“The forestry sector contributes €2.3 billion to GDP annually and employs 12,000 people,” said Minister Hayes. “My department’s analysis shows that the opportunity exists to increase even further the contribution that forestry can make to Ireland’s economy.”