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Spending on forest activities fell by €10.7m in 2020

Cork and Kerry saw highest planting rates last year



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1 July 2021

In 2020, spending on forest activities decreased by €10.7 million on the previous year, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s latest annual Forest Statistics Report.

A total of €79.2 million was spent on forest activities last year. This includes afforestation, maintenance grants, annual premium payments, and   grants   for   forest   road   infrastructure. According to the report, the substantially lower figure was due in part to reduced afforestation levels and the payment of forest premium.

The annual Forest Statistics Report includes information on all aspects of the forest   sector   in   Ireland   including planting   rates, species composition, harvesting, carbon sequestration, forest health, employment, recreation, and comparisons with our European and global counterparts.

In the latest report, it was revealed that 2,434ha of new forests were created in 2020. This equates to just 30% of the government’s annual planting target of 8,000ha. Cork had the highest afforestation area at 293ha in 2020, followed by Kerry with 289ha.

Conifer species are the dominant species nationally, representing 71% of forest area. Broadleaved species accounted for 29%. The proportion of broadleaves in new forests created during 2020 is 34%, an increase of 9% over the area established in 2019.

Native Woodlands established as part of the afforestation scheme in 2020 represented 19% of the total area, an increase of 10% over the area established in 2019.

The report also noted that 50% of forests are in public ownership, with the remainder in private ownership. Farmers have accounted for 81% of private lands afforested between 1980 and 2020.

It also highlighted that in 2020, nearly 100km of private forest roads were funded. This reflects the projected increase in timber and wood to be harvested, which is expected to double by 2030.

In 2020, total expenditure was €79.2 million. The report said this figure includes afforestation grants, annual premium payments and grants for forest road infrastructure.

Further, it touched on the environmental impact Ireland’s forests have. Forests and forest products play an important role in mitigating climate change by sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. In 2019, Ireland’s forests removed close to 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Launching the report, Minister of State at the Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett said: “As I engage with all stakeholders on the commitments in the Programme for Government and Project Woodland, it’s important to have reliable statistics to chart the progress of implementation. ‘Forest Statistics – Ireland 2021’ is a compilation of statistics on the forest estate and the forest industry in Ireland. It is the definitive compendium of up-to-date information on forestry in Ireland and is the go-to reference document for anybody interested in the subject. The information in the annual report demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to forestry.

“The decreasing trend in the area being afforested annually is something that needs to be addressed,” continued Minister Hackett. “New forestry is essential to meeting not only our economic objectives but also our climate change targets and our aims in terms of enhancing biodiversity. The vital importance of forestry to deliver on society’s needs is well understood and the need to unlock this value into the future is clear. Therefore, the immediate priority is to address the current licencing difficulties and deliver on the objectives of set-out in Project Woodland.”

“My department is also examining ways of promoting tree planting on farms on a smaller scale than our existing afforestation schemes for inclusion in the next CAP under agri-environment schemes. The primary aim of these measures is to promote and enhance biodiversity, by protecting important environmental resources and generating carbon sinks”.

The Forest Statistics – Ireland 2021 report is available on the department’s website.

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