Friday 24 November 2017

Microsoft to subsidise tree-planting

Cathriona Hallahan of Microsoft Ireland Picture: Arthur Carron
Cathriona Hallahan of Microsoft Ireland Picture: Arthur Carron
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Tech giant Microsoft is offering Irish landowners a subsidy for planting trees. The €1,000 per hectare payment is on top of a subsidy offered by Government as part of efforts to increase Ireland's forest cover.

Ireland is one of the least-forested countries in Europe.

Microsoft is working with Natural Capital Partners, a company that helps businesses meet their environmental commitments, forestry specialists Forest Carbon, and Irish-based forest managers Green Belt to deliver the project.

The programme provides a bigger incentive for farmers to plant trees on their land, with agricultural land values in many areas decreasing in recent times.

"This could herald a new chapter for Irish forestry and a first step towards valuing and compensating landowners for the ecosystem services their forests provide," said Green Belt chief executive John O'Reilly.

The programme will begin planting on sites in Cork, Kerry and Galway during April and May with the remainder taking place in 2018.

Organisers envisage the planting of trees on 137 hectares of land over the next two years - an area approximately the size of 200 football pitches.

Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan said the company had made a commitment to become carbon neutral in 2012.

"Through this forest creation programme in Ireland we will ensure that we contribute to the country's environmental well-being and support of the economy. Ireland is a key location for Microsoft, with a growing team of up to 1,800 employees," she said.

Sunday Indo Business

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