Ireland's forestry planting season launched in Wexford
The new national forestry planting season has been officially launched in Co Wexford by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle TD.
Minister Doyle launched the season while visiting a tree nursery in Ballymurn owned by the company, None-So-Hardy (Forestry) Ltd, which specialises in broadleaf trees.
It's expected the company will dispatch around five million broadleaf trees throughout the coming planting season as part of the National Forestry programme.
Speaking at the launch Minister Doyle said it was fitting to launch the season in Ballymurn because of what the nursery in question specialises in.
'It's appropriate that the opening of this year's planting season is announced at a tree nursery specialising in broadleaf tree production given the huge uplift in broadleaf planting so far this year,' he said.
The number of broadleaf trees planted in 2018 rose by 25 per cent compared to the previous year and according to Minister Doyle that's attributable to a higher grant and premium afforestation rates.
'This highlights the diversity within the programme where funding is available for planting [from] woodland restoration to woodland recreation amenities,' he said.
'It also highlights the significant environmental benefits that the programme continues to deliver,' he added.
The nursery at Ballymurn has 15 million broadleaf plants in production, the vast majority of which are destined for the afforestation scheme.
Minister Doyle highlighted in particular the level of new native woodlands established during 2018 which he said has exceeded 300 hectares.
He said it represented a 130 per cent increase compared to the first year of the forestry programme in 2015.
Over the last two years None-So-Hardy (Forestry) Ltd has collected 12 tonnes of acorns locally which supply an increasing demand from landowners all over the country to plant native species.
Minister Doyle also commented on the economic benefit forestry makes to local communities across the country .
He said 13,000 farmers throughout Ireland received nearly €68m in forestry premium payments and €25m revenue from timber sales last year and it's hoped that figure will increase going forward.