The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today showcased its new native woodland initiative to a packed audience of Irish business representatives at an event in Trinity College. Interest amongst the business community was high, with representatives from hotel chains, high street retailers, local government, transport businesses, financial institutions and energy providers gathered to hear how the Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) can support their environmental ambitions.
Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry opened the event, saying that “The WEF is my Department’s response to growing demand from within the business community to become involved in native woodland establishment. The Department is the principal driver of afforestation in the country, having committed almost €500m of spending under the current Forestry Programme. The WEF creates an ideal platform for business to join with Government and landowners to plant native woodlands.”
The WEF provides an access point for businesses to become associated with individual forests at their design stage allowing the business to report the estimated carbon emission reductions from the established forest against its footprint. In addition to capturing carbon these forests also provide rich and varied habitats for plants and animals as well as opportunities for recreation and water protection. The WEF aims to re-create the native woodlands that existed all over Ireland thousands of years ago and this vision clearly resonated with business people at today’s event.
This morning’s event heard from the Department of Agriculture on how businesses can participate in the Fund. There were also presentations from the Forum on Natural Capital and from An Post who were the first business to participate. They have since been joined by Accenture and between them, both companies are committed to planting almost 100,000 native broadleaf trees.
Minister Doyle closed today’s event by saying that “It is undeniable that forestry is the most effective land use option when it comes to capturing carbon, we simply cannot meet our emissions targets without planting more trees. The 8,000 hectare target set out in the Climate Action plan will require a national effort and my Department is committed to working with the business community, landowners and all groups in civil society to make this happen.”