Cabinet has approved bringing about changes to the Forestry Act 2014 to “make it easier” to plant small areas of native trees.
The amendment will enable the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to increase native tree planting as part of a scheme.
This will involve:
- Removing the requirement for an afforestation licence for areas up to 1 ha;
- Allowing increased planting of small areas of riparian woodland.
The Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, secured cabinet’s approval earlier today.
She emphasised the priority associated with the legislation to align her Department’s commitments in the Programme for Government and the recently published Climate Action Plan.
In a statement on Tuesday, December 14th, the minister said:
“These new arrangements will enable my Department to incentivise further the planting of native tree species which will contribute to Ireland’s targets, including climate change, biodiversity, habitats and water quality.”
“My Department will consult with industry stakeholders to ensure that the schemes and measures developed will complement existing tree planting schemes.”
Importantly, she said the requirement to comply with environmental law is not undermined by making this change as all works are controlled by regulation through a departmental scheme.
The DAFM will develop a scheme following the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment.
It will incorporate eligibility criteria into the scheme to ensure all participants undertake tree planting works in a “legally compliant and sustainable manner”.
The minister said continued: “I am confident that these changes will be particularly important in terms of creating new native woodlands and undisturbed water setbacks that can be used to deliver meaningful ecosystem services that protect and enhance water quality and aquatic ecosystems.”
“The creation of these permanent semi-natural landscape features alongside streams, rivers and lakes will protect and enhance water quality and aquatic habitats into the future.”
The minister stressed that it is important to note that stakeholder consultation will take place on any proposed measures to ensure that existing tree planting measures are “complementary”.