Minister commits to focus on afforestation and increase public engagement

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Pippa Hackett, announced the focus on public engagement and reforestation licensing.

Addressing the eighth meeting of the Forest Policy Group, the minister said the aim this year is to significantly increase the number of afforestation licenses issued by the department, adding that “a good start” has already been made. taken.

A plan outlining the projections that the Minister has agreed to respect will be published shortly.

The minister’s agenda is also to ensure that the forestry message is well communicated to the public, and this will be done through public engagement, including youth engagement, which is due to occur this week.

Further consultation processes with the public will take place next month.

A recent survey of public attitudes towards forestry will feed into the development of a new forestry strategy, the minister said. The results of this study showed that people are open to more forestry in the country.

The survey, which involved 1,000 people over the age of 16, also highlighted the need for better communication about forestry, including better representation in the media.

Afforestation progress made

At the group’s policy meeting, the Minister highlighted the progress made so far, including the almost 60% increase in licenses last year and the stabilization of timber supplies for the processing sector.

In addition, the backlog of forestry license appeals, which leads to delays in the processing and issuance of licenses, has been addressed, she said.

Other progress made includes:

  • Commissioning an independent regulatory review of the forest licensing system;
  • Piloting of a new system facilitating a pre-request engagement between the forester and the department;
  • Provisions to provide a financial contribution to applicants to cover the cost of environmental reports.

Minister Hackett said that despite the fact that the Woodland project is “difficult and complex”, thanks to the collaborative work of the members of the forest policy group and the working groups, progress is being made.

The Woodland Project – made up of four working groups – is an initiative dedicated to improving the forest licensing system.

“Through our actions and through a collaborative approach, we have a chance to make a real difference to our climate and biodiversity outcomes, while meeting economic and recreational needs.”