Image courtesy of www.greenparty.ie
The fourth meeting of the national Forestry Policy Group took place today. Chaired by the Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, the meeting was convened to monitor progress on the implementation of Project Woodland, which she established earlier this year, to review and implement national forest policy.
Expressing satisfaction at what the members of the Forestry Policy Group heard at the meeting today the Minister said,
“I was very encouraged by the progress reported at today’s meeting. The updates delivered by the Chairs of the Project Board and of each of the four Working Groups demonstrated that that Project Woodland has really hit the ground running. All the Groups have met on several occasions since February and the work done and the plans outlined today indicate they all have solid roadmaps to delivery. I was also happy to hear that not only are the Working Groups busy with their respective work programmes, but they have set up communication links between them to ensure consistency of approach. It all shows, I believe, that we are well on the way to addressing the difficulties the sector is currently facing and to developing a new forest strategy.”
Today’s fourth meeting of the Forestry Policy Group was dedicated to discussing the indicative work plans presented by each Working Group as part of the Group’s remit to steer and monitor the direction of Project Woodland. Members were told that work is well underway on looking at the backlog and more effective processes, which is of course central to the project. They were also told about a comprehensive SWOT and PESTLE analysis which has started as first step towards the development of the new Forestry Strategy. It is envisaged that the public engagement plan for the strategy will be finalised by June this year and then rolled out during the remainder of the year. There was also discussion about a launch of a Call for Proposals for Woodland Support Funding in Ireland for 2021/2022 today. The Call is expected to be made next week and will be one of the first outcomes of the project.
At the meeting the Minister highlighted her Department’s continued investment in new resources to implement national forestry policy and overcome current licencing difficulties. This includes the recruitment of an external project management advisor by her Department. The advisor will take up the post on the 4th May, and will be quickly followed by a systems analyst to undertake a full process review.
She also informed members that the Irish Rural Link study on community attitudes to forestry, which she commissioned as part of Project Woodland, is in its preparatory phase and will commence in earnest in mid- May.
And so, concluding, the Minister said that
‘Project Woodland was established to look at the complex issues the forestry sector is facing. The context in which we have to operate for resolving these issues is a combination of environmental, economic and social needs. I am therefore very grateful for the ongoing commitment of all the participating individuals and organisations for giving their time and expertise to plot a brighter and more sustainable future for forestry in Ireland. We are making real progress here and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to implement this.”
The progress of Project Woodland is overseen by a Project Board, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department, Brendan Gleeson. The Project Board has met on three occasions since the Project was launched and is providing external guidance and expertise to ensure its success. The Chair of the Project Board also updated today’s meeting on progress in implementation of the Project to date.
All of the documents for the Forest Policy Group can be found at www.gov.ie/en/collection/e43d8-forestry-policy-group-chaired-by-mos-hackett/