Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said today that it is good news that the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots is “keen to introduce an afforestation strategy”.
The party’s economy and climate action spokesperson was speaking after the minister responded in writing to her confirming he would introduce an Afforestation Strategy on public land.
The East Derry MLA said:
“I welcome the response from the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that he is ‘keen to introduce an afforestation strategy on public land’.
“He said he would collaborate with Executive colleagues and local councils to create an Afforestation Forum.
“The forum will initially meet this month to advance plans to allow planting to start during the winter 2020/21 tree planting season.
“Sinn Féin advocates an ambitious tree planting programme as one on the measures to offset carbon emissions, as trees absorb and store carbon dioxide.
“However, any tree planting programme must be of native, broadleaf trees which will support and improve biodiversity.
“The culture of planting only Sitka Spruce has had a detrimental environmental and ecological impact.
“This is a step in the right direction in terms of beginning to address the climate emergency by offsetting carbon emissions.
“However, what we fundamentally require is the delivery of climate legislation which creates a framework for climate action.
“Setting robust and enforceable emissions reduction targets and bringing forward a Climate Change Act should be a primary priority for the Minister.”