The Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, has published a Shared National Vision for Trees, Woods and Forests in Ireland until 2050.
The visionary document calls for “the right trees in the right places for the right reasons with the right management – supporting a sustainable and thriving economy and society and a healthy environment”. It anticipates by 2050 that Ireland’s forests will be seen as a key solution to the climate, biodiversity, housing and health emergencies of the 2020s. The full text of the Vision is available here.
Commenting on the Vision, Minister Hackett said, “in advance of the publication of a new Forest Strategy and Forestry Programme, I am delighted to publish today our Shared National Vision for Trees, Woods and Forests. My department has carried out extensive consultation to find out what we as a nation want from our trees, and this Shared Vision reflects the outcome of that consultation. It is a call to action and shows the urgency needed to plant the right trees in the right places. The Vision underlines our commitment to sustainably manage our expanding forest estate and to increase the environmental, economic and social benefits of forests.”
The Shared Vision is based on the work of Project Woodland, the group formed last year to examine potential reforms to Ireland’s forestry sector and to consider Ireland’s longer term strategic direction for forestry. Project Woodland is developing a new Forest Strategy to 2030, which will underpin a new Forestry Programme for the period 2023-2027.
The draft Forest Strategy to 2030 will be subject to public consultation shortly and will be shaped by the extensive feedback received on the Vision over the last 12 months. The next Forestry Programme will be the primary means by which we deliver on the Vision and on the Strategy in the immediate term. There has been significant engagement to date with stakeholders and the public on the next Forestry Programme, and the draft Programme will shortly be subject to further statutory and public consultation through the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment processes.
Minister Hackett said, “this is a shared vision, and is every bit as much for the wider public as it is for those working in the forestry sector. It amplifies the many benefits of forests: for our climate, our people, our economy and Ireland’s water quality, biodiversity and habitats. I am proud to stand behind this vision which shows our intent to rapidly increase the establishment of new forests.”
The text for the new Shared National Vision for Trees, Woods and Forests has been informed by a series of consultation methods with the public which the department initiated through Project Woodland over the past year. These consultations included a public attitudes survey, an online survey, a study of the attitudes of rural communities, a citizens’ assembly style deliberative dialogue, a youth forum, and a series of bilateral meetings with key stakeholders.
Minister Hackett said, “the results of the various consultations on forestry over the past year give a hugely valuable insight into what Irish people want from our forests, and we have found a significant degree of consensus in this regard. There is almost unanimous support to establish more forests, and this aligns with commitments in the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan to urgently expand the area of forests in Ireland.”