National and international experts will take part in a two-day conference focusing on Ireland's native woodlands. The conference, '20-Years-A-Growing', takes place today (April 30) and tomorrow (May 1) at the Glenview Hotel in Delgany, Co. Wicklow.
Organised by Woodlands of Ireland, 20 Years A-Growing marks two decades of work restoring, managing and creating new native woodlands in Ireland. The conference schedule includes expert presentations on the management and issues relating to native woodlands, panel discussions, and field excursions.
Officially opening the conference, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle said: “As native woodlands are an important part of Ireland’s natural heritage, history and culture, and are unique in terms of their biodiversity, it is appropriate that we focus on that element of Irish forestry. We must also bear in mind the other important ecosystem services provided by our native woodlands, such as water and soil protection, wider habitat linkage and carbon sequestration. I am not underestimating their economic potential as a source of quality hardwood, renewable energy and other wood and non-wood products, and the social and recreational benefits we derive from them.”
Minister Doyle also launched a new initiative called Woodland for Water, which is part of his Department’s response to the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021. Using woodlands and forests to proactively contribute to improving Irish waters, fits in perfectly with the theme of the conference and demonstrates the Department’s cross sectoral strategic approach to planting native woodlands, said Minister Daly.
The Minister outlined the role of his Department in relation to the expansion of Ireland’s native woodland resource, through afforestation on new sites and the conversion of existing non-native forests, saying: “One of the principal objectives of the Forestry Programme is to increase the level of broadleaves and the Department has worked closely with Woodlands of Ireland and other stakeholders in a partnership format over the past 20 years or so to develop policies and measures to improve the level and quality of our native woodlands.”