Ireland falling far short of afforestration targets
Ireland is falling far short of tree planting targets, with just 6,156 hectares of new forestry funded last year, a forestry expert has warned.
"Ireland has around 10.6pc of the total land area planted, far below the European levels," says Michael Fleming, chairman of the IFA's forestry committee.
"However, we need to get to 17 to 18pc to be self sufficient."
Mr Fleming said the forestry sector was in a "precarious situation" with 6,000ha the bare minimum to sustain the level of employment and opportunities for the sector.
He said the afforestation programme has fallen by 40pc in the last 10-years from 10,000ha in 2005 to just under 6,200ha last year.
There was funding available for 7,000ha but this had not been reached over the last four years.
The IFA has urged Minister of State Tom Hayes to reopen marginal land with a realistic grant rate that would attract farmers to forestry as land availability was a key issue.
Mr Fleming said the new Forestry Programme saw strong interest at the start with nearly 2,300ha of new forests planted.