Tree Planting: Young People

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP 3:15 pm, 3rd March 2020

T4. Mr Stalford asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, following yesterday’s positive announcement about afforestation and the Department’s planned initiatives, to outline how he intends to engage young people in planting more trees in Northern Ireland. (AQT 194/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Our young people are very important in the whole environmental issue. Young people are talking a lot about the environment. I encourage young people not to get lifts to school but to use public transport or to walk, and that would be more effective than strikes. That is one thing that I would say.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I hear the Member tut-tutting, but can she argue that it would not be better for the environment if fewer cars were sitting outside school gates with fumes coming out of them?

In any event, we will, hopefully, be joined by over 500 young people next week as we commence the programme of planting trees. We want to engage with young people and the youth population and encourage them to get more involved in our environment, in our biodiversity, in our forests and all that. That is part of the programme, and we will work with the Department of Education and others to develop it.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

In 2014, there was an outbreak of sudden oak death in Belvoir forest. Some 6,500 trees covering 11 hectares had to be felled, which accounted for almost a quarter of the forest. Will the Minister join me in visiting Belvoir forest to see for himself how tree replanting can be facilitated there? I hope to engage Belvoir Park Primary School in such a project.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am very interested in anything that encourages young people to get involved. If the Member wants to pass on the details, I will give them my fullest consideration.