16th December 2021 | Press Releases

Minister Hackett takes action to improve native tree planting

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Minister Pippa Hackett has moved to amend the Forestry Act to make it easier to plant small areas of native woodland. The Minister has secured Cabinet approval for the amendment, which will remove the requirement for an afforestation licence for areas up to 1 hectare.

“These new arrangements will 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. “It was one of our commitments in the Programme for Government to promote planting of ‘protection forests’ along rivers and lakes to protect water quality and assist in managing flood risks.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan welcomed the move and said a new form of forestry is required;

“We have gone from a country of 1% forests to 11%, but we need to do so much more to reach our climate goals and we need to change the model to achieve that. Farmers in particular want to play their part, and this decision to make it easier to plant small native woodlands will be transformative.”

The proposed amendment to the Forestry Act will still ensure compliance with environmental law, as all works are controlled through a Departmental scheme – following the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment.

Minister Hackett said the amendment would enhance water quality into the future.

“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.”