Ireland’s forestry programme for 2014-2020 is to be evaluated.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Tom Hayes, announced the formal signing yesterday of a contract with  RSM McClure Watters Consulting Ltd to carry out an evaluation and strategic environmental assessment of the new programme.

Minister Hayes said: “The signing of this contract marks an important step in the preparation of the new forestry programme as it signals the beginning of a process, which will end in the formal adoption of an ambitious plan for forestry, fully funded by the State.”

He said the proposed suite of measures will undergo a rigorous appraisal exercise to ensure that the overall plan is in line with the needs identified for Ireland which are consistent with EU-wide priorities. The proposal will then be subject to an environmental assessment, which will ensure that any environmental considerations are taken into account in the preparation of the forestry programme.

“At the centre of this work will be a consultation process involving both stakeholders and the wider public and it is expected that this process will begin next month, with details to be announced shortly,” he added.

The Minister said: “The forestry programme for the period 2014-2020 must take into account new state aid rules, which are based on the recently published Common Agricultural Policy regulations. I can reassure those wishing to plant and the forestry sector as a whole that my department is looking at all option available within this new framework to maintain an attractive afforestation scheme for the next six years.”

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