The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., has launched the start of the 2018-19 forestry planting season during a visit to tree nursery in Ballymurn, Co. Wexford.
This nursery belongs to the None-So-Hardy company and is their specialist broadleaf nursery from where almost 5 million broadleaf trees will be dispatched during the coming planting season.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister Doyle commented: “It’s appropriate that the opening of this year’s planting season is announced at a tree nursery specialising in broadleaf tree production, given the huge uplift in broadleaf planting so far this year. Planting of broadleaf trees are 25 per cent higher than last year and is a direct result of higher grant and premium afforestation rates introduced by my Department earlier this year under the midterm review of the State’s Forestry Programme. This highlights the diversity within the Programme where funding is available for planting to woodland restoration to woodland recreation amenities. It also highlights the significant environmental benefits which the Programme continues to deliver”.
The nursery at Ballymurn has 15 million broadleaf plants in production, the vast majority of which are destined for the afforestation scheme. In fact 5 million will be lifted during the planting season announced today by Minister Doyle. The Minister highlighted in particular the level of new Native Woodlands establishment during 2018. “The planting of native woodlands so far in 2018 has exceeded 300 hectares, representing a 130% increase on the first year of our Forestry Programme in 2015. I understand from None-So-Hardy that they have collected some 12 tonnes of acorns locally in the past two years, all of which will supply an increasing demand from landowners to plant native species”.
The Afforestation Scheme is the cornerstone of the Department of Agriculture’s policy to develop a sustainable forest sector that delivers economic, environmental and social benefits to society. During the visit the Minister highlighted the important economic contribution that forestry makes in rural communities across the country. “Last year over 13,000 farmers across the country received nearly €68 million in forestry premium payments and €25m revenue from timber sales. I would encourage farmers to consider forestry as part of the farming mix, an opportunity to diversify the income stream and a means of increasing production of under-utilised land. Applications are now invited under the Scheme under which 100% of the costs of establishment are covered by the Department and 15 guaranteed annual premium payments are also available”.