Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, says the state forestry company, Coillte, needs to be reformed and developed so it is able to meet its full potential which would lead to enhanced afforestation in this country.

Deputy Ó Cuív added that there needs to be a major planting drive undertaken in this country by the public and private sectors.

“Forestry and its development are extremely important for rural development in Ireland,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“A successful and thriving Coillte is of extreme importance to the future of the forestry sector and it should remain as a separate state owned commercial company.

“The development of rural recreation, for example, would help guarantee the sustainable future of Coillte.

“Fianna Fáil is calling for increased net afforestation efforts throughout Ireland. An afforestation target of 20,000 hectares per annum should be implemented between 2014 and 2020, which would bring Ireland’s percentage of forest cover closer to the EU average. This would be funded through Coillte profits and a capital investment programme in order to guarantee supply and profit in the future.

Coillte Policy Doc

“Agriculture lands held by NAMA should be considered for afforestation where the property is no longer commercially viable.

“Fianna Fáil is also calling for a huge planting drive which should entail a mix between commercial conifer and broadleaf trees with at least 50% of new planting to be native Irish trees such as Alder and Oak trees.

“Coillte should also initiate an ‘Adopt a Tree’ campaign where individuals or groups can sponsor the planting of a tree. This would be similar to the previous Millennium forest project.

“If the Government is proactive in promoting a more sustainable Coillte there is enormous potential for growth and more importantly rural job creation.”