Forestry 25% up on 2009 levels – Sargent

Greens welcome FG’s new-found interest in forestry and climate change

The Green Party has said that forest plantings were 25% above 2009 levels and that work was well underway in Government to deliver on the forestry commitments contained in the 2009 Renewed Programme For Government.

“By establishing a 10,000 ha planting target in the Renewed Programme for Government and ensuring this target was acknowledged in the 2010 Budget, the Green Party raised the prominence of the forestry industry and its potential to a new level,” Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Trevor Sargent TD said.

Speaking from the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, Deputy Sargent added: “Although we are some months away from establishing how many trees were planted this year, I understand that forest plantings rates are running well ahead of last year. It is likely that 8,000 ha will be planted and this would represent a 25% increase on 2009 and commensurate with the PFG commitment for 2010. In addition the policy reviews in the Renewed Programme For Government are well advanced and the outcome of that work will soon emerge.

“The Green Party has for many years been an advocate of prioritising forestry both for the potential sustainable employment it provides and the huge environmental benefits that it delivers. We will continue to work in government and with the forestry industry to fully exploit this potential and it’s central role in fighting climate change.

Dismissing opposition criticisms as “shallow and political point scoring”, Deputy Sargent said: “I was amused to hear Fine Gael begin to talk about the potential of forestry this week and the importance of action to tackle climate change. I welcome their newfound interest in the forestry industry. It’s a pity that they didn’t wake up to this potential years ago. From a party that opposed the carbon levy, Planning Bill, PSO levy, and many other important policies aimed at tackling climate change, their declarations on this issue are less than convincing.

“We recognise that the budgetary situation is challenging but the Green Party remains committed to achieving and building on the Programme for Government targets. We will pursue all avenues and other fiscal measures to deliver on this important commitment,” he concluded.