Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has announced a public call for innovative projects that support the forestry sector. The minister, who is responsible for forestry, is seeking projects that highlight the environmental, social, and economic benefits of forestry, forests, and timber products. Funding will be allocated by the DAFM through an open competition under the Forestry Promotion Projects Support Fund.
Minister Hackett stated, “Our Forestry Programme 2023-2027 is now open to applications, and to complement this, we are looking for projects and proposals that will encourage farmers and other landowners to plant trees under the new program. We also aim to raise the profile of forestry as a public good and a commercially viable enterprise.”
Previous successful applications under this fund have included a series of forestry webinars, field workshops on Continuous Cover Forestry, promoting the use of home-grown timber for construction, the sourcing and planting of native trees, woodland open days, ecological restoration, agroforestry, and many others. Minister Hackett emphasized the importance of promoting a greater understanding of the multi-functional benefits of forests.
The call for projects is divided into four themes, and applications are invited from any group or individual. The themes are as follows:
1. Promote schemes under the new Forestry Programme, with a particular focus on engaging with farmers, existing forest owners, and other landowners.
2. Promote productive forestry and the benefits of increased use of timber products in construction and design, in the context of climate action and the bioeconomy.
3. Promote sustainable forest management among forest owners and a range of silvicultural systems, targeted at professionals and organizations already active in this area with established programs in operation.
4. Promote the multi-functional benefits of trees and forests, including for eco-system services, bioenergy, communities, children, and general wellness.
The DAFM will particularly emphasize projects submitted under Theme 1, which focuses on engaging with farmers, existing forest owners, and other landowners. Minister Hackett stated, “There is widespread support for promoting greater awareness and education about the many functions, benefits, and culture of forests. A need has been identified to re-establish a more rooted understanding of the value of forests, collective support for forest expansion, and a nationwide awareness of the potential of wood products. Encouraging farmers and landowners to seriously consider planting all types of forests is one important aspect of this initiative, while the promotion of the benefits of trees and forests for eco-system services, bioenergy, communities, and general wellness is another.”
This public call for innovative projects presents an opportune time to promote a greater understanding of the multi-functional benefits of forests. Minister Hackett encourages individuals and groups to submit their proposals and contribute to the growth and sustainability of the forestry sector in Ireland.