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Forest owners to get €56m funds

Annual forestry premia worth €56.2m will be issued to forest owners this week, Minister for State Shane McEntee has announced.

The annual payments, which will be made to 11,500 forestry owners, are paid for 20 years in the case of farmers and for 15 years for non-farmers.

Minister McEntee said forest owners could look forward to returns from thinnings and clear felling of plantations in addition to their annual premium payments.

Around €100m could be generated for farmers and the rural economy over the next four years from first and second thinnings of private forestry, new figures from Teagasc suggest.

However, the volume of timber harvested in the private forest sector is still small compared with production forecasts, IFA forestry chairman Pat Hennessy has warned.

"If farmers delay thinning their forests, the opportunity could be lost and the financial return reduced," he said.

Mr Hennessy was speaking ahead of the IFA's 'Working Together to Mobilise the Private Timber Resource' forestry conference, which takes place on Thursday week in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise.

The aim is to help farmers learn more about timber markets, how to establish forest-owner groups and develop on-farm timber enterprises, particularly in the wood energy sector.

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