Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Afforestation Scheme.

Wednesday, 24 November 1976

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 294 No. 5

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11.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  asked the Minister for Lands if he proposes to introduce a more vigorous and attractive scheme of afforestation.

Minister for Lands (Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick,: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Cavan): I take it that the Deputy is referring to private planting.

My Department already operate a scheme whereby planting grants and a free advisory service are made available to private landowners laying down plantations.

The scheme is reviewed periodically.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The question did not refer solely to private planting but in that regard would the Minister accept that the scheme is so unattractive that people are not availing of it?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I would not accept that. The position in regard to private planting is that it has never taken on, so to speak. For example, between the year 1931 and the last date for which figures are available, which is quite recently, the total area planted in the private sector was only 22,587 acres. It would appear that during the past few years as agricultural land has become progressively more valuable it has become less attractive to plant land.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  In respect of State and private afforestation, is there not a need now for the creation of circumstances which would bring about greater efficiency in the development of both those sectors thereby leading to what is a vital industry?

[622]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I agree that the production of timber is in the national interest and I am glad to be able to tell the Deputy that in so far as the public sector are concerned we are continuing to plant at the rate of 25,000 acres per annum. That figure is quite good. A factor in this area is that it is not as easy now to acquire land for planting in the public sector as it was a few years ago because landowners are thinking long and seriously before agreeing to sell.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Would that not suggest to the Minister that, having regard to the importance of afforestation, he should be looking at schemes that would make it attractive to farmers to become involved in afforestation?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I am doing just that. A successful seminar in the private sector—I take it the Deputy is dealing with the private sector when he refers to encouraging farmers to plant—was organised jointly by the Forest and Wildlife Service and the Irish Landowners Convention Limited in April, 1976. I had the honour of addressing that seminar. I understand another will be held shortly and that the views and exchanges that have taken place are being processed at present. I should not be surprised if I had proprosals as a result.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am glad to hear that so long as the Minister can confirm that what is happening now, apart from being interesting, will also prove significant.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Of course, it will. The Deputy might also like to know that the EEC proposal for a directive on forestry measures has not yet been agreed on and is being processed.


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