New scheme targets rare Irish woodland areas

A new project announced by the Government will be the largest priority woodland restoration project ever undertaken in Ireland.

Mary Wallace, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, launched the scheme and revealed that it will be co-funded by Coillte and EU DG-Environment.

The EU's Habitats Directive recognises four types of forest in Ireland which are deemed critically rare. These are termed alluvial, bog woodland, yew woodland and areas associated with limestone pavement.

Under the new scheme, businesses will be encouraged to restore and conserve a total of 550 hectares of priority woodland habitats. In particular, regions in Counties Mayo, Clare, Sligo, Laois, Limerick, Tipperary, Galway, Cavan and Offaly will receive the funding.

"Forests are among the most diverse and complex ecosystems in the world, providing a habitat for a multitude of flora and fauna. All of this is part of our heritage and it is important that action is taken now to restore and conserve for future generations," the Minister said.

"As part of Coillte's commitment to sustainable forest management, it was awarded the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) Certificate for well managed forests, in which context the company has committed, over time, to set aside 15% of its land holding to be managed for biodiversity."

Earlier in December, Minister Wallace revealed an addition Euro 800,000 of funding for businesses involved in the forestry sector.

James Cooper



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