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Proposed changes to the Forestry Act 2014 would increase planting of native trees

By removing the requirement for an afforestation license for areas up to 1 ha, the changes will enable the DAFM to increase native tree planting

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Horticulture

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16 December 2021 | 0

A request to make legislative changes to the Forestry Act 2014 has been granted Cabinet approval, in a bid to make it easier to plant small areas of native trees.

The request, which was granted to Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett, will enable the DAFM to increase native tree planting as part of a scheme by removing the requirement for an afforestation license for areas up to 1 ha and to allow increased planting of small areas of riparian woodland.

The requirement to comply with environmental law is not undermined by making this change, as all works will be controlled by regulation through a Departmental scheme. The development of a scheme will be undertaken following the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment. Eligibility criteria will be incorporated into the scheme which will ensure that all tree planting works are undertaken in a legally compliant and sustainable manner.

“These new arrangements will enable my Department to further incentivise the planting of native tree species which will contribute to Ireland’s targets, including climate change, biodiversity, habitats and water quality,” said Minister Hackett. “My Department will consult with industry stakeholders to ensure that the schemes and measures developed will complement existing tree planting schemes.”

The Minister continued: “I am confident that these changes will be particularly important in terms of creating new native woodlands and undisturbed water setbacks that can be used to deliver meaningful ecosystem services that protect and enhance water quality and aquatic ecosystems. The creation of these permanent semi-natural landscape features alongside streams, rivers and lakes will protect and enhance water quality and aquatic habitats into the future.”

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