Cabinet approval secured to make legislative changes to the Forestry Act 2014
Press Release 14 December 2021
Minister Hackett secures Cabinet approval to make legislative changes to the Forestry Act 2014 aimed at increasing the planting of native trees
The Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett is delighted to announce today that she has secured cabinet approval to bring about changes to the Forestry Act 2014 and to make it easier to plant small areas of native trees.
The amendment will enable the Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine to increase native tree planting as part of a scheme by removing the requirement for an afforestation licence for areas up to 1 ha and to allow increased planting of small areas of riparian woodland.
Welcoming the proposed changes, Minister Hackett 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.
The Minister commented,
“These new arrangements will enable my Department to further incentivise 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 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 development of a scheme will be undertaken following the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment. Eligibility criteria will be incorporated into the scheme which will ensure that all tree planting works are undertaken in a legally compliant and sustainable manner.
The Minister said,
“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.”
It is important to note that stakeholder consultation will take place on any proposed measures to ensure that existing tree planting measures are complementary. The next CAP and Forestry Programme will provide opportunities to encourage more tree planting and the Department welcomes engagement with stakeholders in the months ahead as the detail of schemes are developed.