Key role for Forest Service is outlined

Timber harvesting
Timber harvesting

The Forest Service has a vital role in protecting plant health and our eco-system and in promoting the rural economy and tourism.

That was the key message from Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill when she endorsed the Forest Service Agency’s Framework Document.

Commenting on the progress of the Service since it was established as an Executive Agency in April 1998, Minister O’Neill said: “The Forest Service today produces one third more timber, attracts more than twice the number of visitors, has positioned itself as a major partner for District Councils in the delivery of tourism products, is now responsible for all plant health matters in the north of Ireland and it has recently moved its headquarters to Enniskillen.”

She continued: “The Agency has a challenging task. It is therefore right and proper that the Department revises its requirements of the Agency and the arrangements for governance, so that the Forest Service will have a secure footing going forward. This document does that, setting out the role and broad framework within which the Agency operates in today’s context.”

The Minister concluded: “Now that the Forest Service has moved to a new HQ in Enniskillen, I am confident that the changes which the Agency has adopted to enhance its flexibility, commercial freedom, and a more developed customer focus will enable these challenges to be met successfully. I wish the staff every success in their work.”

Forest Service is an Executive Agency within the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). It contributes to the economic development of the entire forestry sector whilst promoting the sustainable management of forests for multiple usage and conserving and enhancing the rural environment.

It also promotes the supply of wood for industrial use, and encourages access to and use of local forests, while protecting and conserving forests and the associated areas of special natural and heritage interest. Forest Service is also responsible for plant health policy development and regulation.