Afforestation Workshop 2023

In March 2020 DAERA announced a commitment to create 9000 hectares (ha) of new woodland by 2030, based on recommendations made by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to DAERA in 2019. The ‘Forests for Our Future’ programme was launched in 2020, and around 1300 ha contributing to the total has been achieved to date. However, further increases in the rate will be needed to achieve the stated ambition.

The need to do more to increase afforestation is acknowledged by the forestry and timber sector and is reflected in respective manifestos promoting woodland expansion and the development of the forestry sector published by the Confederation of Forests Industries (CONFOR) Northern Ireland and the Woodland Trust in advance of the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Work subsequently undertaken by DAERA on future policies and mechanisms that would contribute to increasing the rate of afforestation identified four key areas where development is needed: a) availability of land for tree planting, b) funding mechanisms that would encourage more landowners to plant trees on their land, c) better co-ordination of Departmental policies promoting forestry, and d) the need to address a developing skills shortage within the sector.

These respective activities provided the basis for a Northern Ireland forestry sector workshop on overcoming barriers to afforestation held in Loughry College 10th January 2023. Thirty participants representing forest owners, managers and timber processors discussed possible measures to increase the rate of afforestation.

Workshop Report

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