Forest Service, an Executive Agency of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), has launched a public engagement regarding forests in Co. Down.

Calling on the farming community to respond to the engagement, Planning Forester, Breandan Mulholland said:

“This is the seventh consultation since 2017 in relation to forest plans and the response from the rural community has been fantastic.

“We have received responses from a diverse range of stakeholders including those representing the farming industry, countryside sports and local communities.

“Forestry planning helps us deliver many services from our forests and woodlands, such as timber production and capture of carbon dioxide to mitigate climate change.

“Regular reviews of forest plans ensure that they are up to date and allows us to monitor our forests to enable them to continue to meet the diverse and sometimes competing needs of people, wildlife, and wood processing industries.”

“With an estimated forest cover of around 8,800ha in Down, forests and woodlands are a significant part of the rural landscape and economy.

“Around 40% of these forests and woodlands are non-Forest Service.

“Forest Service seeks greater involvement of people in the revision of its forest plans.

“Plans will consider Forest Service forests and make references to other woodlands. Members of the farming community can help by telling us what is important to them.”

The consultation can be accessed via the ‘Citizen Space’ website.

Mulholland concluded: “Forests are a vital natural resource which belong to us all.

“This is the last consultation to be held in the current review of forest plans, and it is particularly important that those living and working in the rural community have their say on the development of forest plans.”

The consultation runs from September 23 to November 30, 2022.