DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has pledged to help tackle climate change by planting 18 million trees over the next 10 years – 10 for every person in Northern Ireland.
The ‘Forests for our Future’ programme is Northern Ireland’s biggest and most ambitious plan to develop our forests and contribute to sustainable economic growth and was announced by the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, in a statement to the Assembly on the 2nd of March.
The programme pledges to:
- Plant 18 million trees (9,000 hectares of new woodland)
- Improve the resilience of our forests and woodlands
- Increase their contribution to a sustainable, healthy environment;
- Increase their contribution to NI’s sustainable economic growth;
- Enable more people to improve their health, wellbeing and life chances; and
- Contribute to the UK Net Zero by 2050 target.
Minister Poots said: “Forests are a natural and vital resource, enjoyed by people across the world. Each year in Northern Ireland, our forest parks are visited around five million times and contribute greatly to positive physical and mental health and help people to connect with their environment.
“However, forest cover in Northern Ireland currently sits at 8%, well behind the UK average of 13%. We plant only 200 hectares of woodland per year, instead of the 900 hectares recommended recently by the Committee on Climate Change. That is why I have launched ‘Forests for our Future’ - my Department’s biggest and most ambitious plan to improve and sustain our forests and contribute to economic growth.”
Minister Poots added that forests will help most fighting climate change “Tree planting is one of the most simple and low-cost options open to us (to mitigate carbon emissions) and is a great step in the right direction" he said. Furthermore, planting more trees will make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland's sustainable economic growth, the minister hopes.