Help us to ensure a flourishing future for forestry in Northern Ireland after Brexit

28 August 2018

Northern Ireland has a target to create 1,000 hectares of new woodland a year, however a wide range of factors mean that only about 1,000 hectares (in total) have been planted since 2012

Now you can help to change that. Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is consulting on proposals for rural support after Brexit, and numbers do matter.

It is vital that you respond to the consultation and ensure DAERA hears of widespread support to grow the trees we need.

How do I respond?

What should I say?

1. Tell your story: why will better support for productive woodlands be good for your business, for your local area, and for Northern Ireland?

2. Ask DAERA to implement policies to promote productive woodlands and forestry in Northern Ireland. In particular we suggest you ask that they:

  • Ensure that support for productive woodlands are included in future “agri-environment” schemes.
  • Support integrated land uses combining both timber production and livestock farming.
  • Ensure support for other land uses are ‘sense-checked’ to ensure they do not disadvantage landowners wishing to plant trees.
  • Identify woodland priority areas, where risks are low and benefits high, and where the applications process for woodland creation can be accelerated.
  • Provide funding for, and remove barriers to, woodland creation during the ‘transition period’, to ensure that the DAERA reaches its planting target.

3. Confor has produced a range of reports and infographics which you might find useful to quote in making our case for better support for forestry in Northern Ireland. These include:

Who should respond?

Better support for establishing woodland will have multiple benefits for many stakeholders:

  • Woodland owners, struggling to access grants for woodland management or expansion;
  • Wood-processing sector, which has invested substantially in sawmills and wood processing to create jobs and add value to timber, but faces a severe lack of supply in coming years due to the lack of planting;
  • Farmers, prevented from integrating profitable timber production into their business by the lack of grants and difficult applications process;
  • Wider Northern Irish stakeholders, who benefit from woodlands in carbon sequestration, air quality, public access away from livestock, enhanced biodiversity, and locally grown timber products like ‘home-grown homes’.

Confor has produced a first draft response here.

To read the full consultation document and submit a more detailed response, visit the consultation page on the DAERA website.

If you have any questions, please contact Andrew Heald, andrew.heald@confor.org.uk 0131 240 1410.