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Tom Hayes TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today announced the launch of a new Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme. The Minister of State made the announcement during his keynote address to the National Conference on ‘What shall we do with our hardwoods’, organised by the Wood Marketing Federation and the Society of Irish Foresters, in Johnstown Castle Hotel, Enfield, Co. Meath.
Minister of States Hayes congratulated both organisations on organising the conference, the subject of which he noted as “very topical and follows logically from the subject of last year’s conference ‘What shall we do with our timber?” He also noted that the results of the Second National Forest Inventory 2012 indicated that broadleaved forests represent 25.8% of the national forest cover and concluded that ‘it is fair to say that broadleaves, from which hardwood is derived, represents a very significant proportion of our forests, both in terms of area and potential value’.
The Minister of State added that the State has sought to encourage the planting of broadleaves in its various forestry programmes over the last few decades and that the current proportion of broadleaves is the outcome of those efforts. He also commented that “this focus is again reflected in the current Forestry Programme which runs to 2020.”
Noting that the quality and productivity of any forest plantation is dependent upon the genetic quality of the seed and reproductive material used during establishment, Minister of States Hayes continued: “in the longer term, Ireland needs to reduce its dependency on imported seed and increase the supply of superior home produced genetic material which is well-adapted and productive in the Irish environment. To this end, today’s event is the perfect opportunity for me to announce the launch of the new Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme.”
The scheme, which is 100% state funded, will provide financial support for existing seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material and the establishment of both indoor and outdoor seed orchards. While the main focus of the Scheme is to increase the resilience, productivity and quality of Irish forests, this new initiative also addresses the potential for forestry to meet the environmental and social needs of society. To this end, the Scheme provides support aimed at the conservation and protection of Ireland’s ancient oak woodlands by providing funding to increase acorn production from these forests. This material can then be used in the Native Woodland Scheme which is also supported under the Forestry Programme. Further details regarding the Scheme are available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s website:

http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/press/pressreleases/2015/may/title,82903,en.html