Give new agroforestry ground existing breaks says mid-term review
New agroforestry planting ground should continue to be deemed agricultural land, remain eligible for CAP direct payments and be exempt from a replanting requirement.
This was one of the findings from an assessment of the mid-term review of Ireland's forestry programme (2014-20).
The assessment also recommended that a slimmed-down version of the Forest Management Plan be introduced for small-scale plantations.
The reports on Irish forestry policy were commissioned by MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and followed concerns that the 2018 mid-term review of the current forestry programme, undertaken by the Forest Service, did not take account of some points made in submissions.
The assessment, which was carried out by Gerry Lawson of Spanish-based consultancy Forest Transitions, was outlined to farmers at a meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon last Friday night.
Mr Flanagan said the absence of hedgerows in calculations of the total area of planted land in Ireland was an important finding.
The assessment calculated that 6.4pc of the country's land area was covered by hedgerows. Mr Flanagan said this level of native tree cover, allied to the 11pc which is currently planted, took Ireland's total tree cover to the 17-18pc sought under the forestry programme.
In addition, the assessment claimed that increased payment levels were required for small-scale plantations and forestry road building to encourage further planting.