Ireland Commits to Planting 3 Billion Trees in Bold Environmental Move

Minister Pippa Hackett Commits Ireland to European Union's '3 Billion Trees' Initiative

Minister of State for land use and biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has today pledged Ireland’s support for the European Union’s ‘3 Billion Trees’ initiative. This commitment is based on the number of native trees planted under the department’s afforestation schemes since May 20, 2020. Minister Hackett announced that five million native trees have been planted under these schemes, emphasizing the significance of the EU’s initiative in advancing climate, sustainability, and biodiversity goals within the EU.

The ‘3 Billion Trees’ pledge serves as a crucial mechanism for countries to contribute towards these shared objectives. Minister Hackett expressed confidence in Ireland’s ability to significantly increase its tree-planting efforts through the new Forestry Programme and the CAP Strategic Plan, as well as their successor programs. She affirmed that Ireland is poised to make a substantial contribution towards the three billion tree goal by 2030.

Minister Hackett highlighted the importance of diversifying tree species and the sustainable management of conifers for timber production. The European Green Deal, along with the EU’s Biodiversity and Forest Strategies, outline commitments to safeguarding and restoring nature. One key commitment is the planting of at least three billion additional trees in the EU by 2030, aiming to double the forest expansion rate achieved from 2005 to 2020.

This ambitious pledge encompasses the expansion of existing forests, new planting on agricultural land, and the promotion of agro-forestry practices. It also emphasizes urban greening through increased planting in urban and peri-urban areas. The initiative not only benefits the climate but also enhances forest health, supports rural development, and contributes to urban green spaces.

To be included in the pledge, trees must have been planted or sprouted after May 20, 2020, and must be additional trees that benefit biodiversity and the climate. They should not be invasive alien species. Ireland’s new Forestry Programme for 2023-2027 offers various schemes to assist private landowners and public bodies in tree planting and management. The program has increased its annual broadleaf target to 50% of total annual planting, up from 30%.

Under the new program, premium rates for establishing native forests have risen by 66%, with €1,103/ha available for planting native forests and €1,142/ha for native forests with water over 15 or 20 years. Minister Hackett emphasized that this Forestry Programme is the most ambitious to date, aiming to support landowners in planting trees that provide long-term benefits for climate, biodiversity, and society at large.

In a proactive move towards environmental conservation and sustainable land use, Minister Hackett’s pledge underscores Ireland’s commitment to contributing to the EU’s tree-planting goals. This initiative not only addresses climate change but also promotes biodiversity, strengthens rural communities, and enhances urban environments. With the Forestry Programme 2023-2027 in place, Ireland is poised to play a vital role in advancing these shared objectives within the EU.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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