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Title: An investigation of factors influencing afforestation in Northern Ireland
Author: McPhillips, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3389 2576
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2008
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Northern Ireland is the least forested country in Europe with only 6% forest cover. Despite having one of the most suitable climates for growing trees, previous afforestation schemes have been unsuccessful and forest cover has increased by a mere 1.2% since 1980. This thesis provides a detailed synopsis of forestry in Northern Ireland with a focus on identifying current forestry perceptions, factors affecting planting decisions and mechanisms to encourage the transfer of land from agriculture. The evaluation process examines perceptions and attitudes from the general public and other stakeholder groups such as those from industry and environmental nongovernment organisations as well as the exploration ofthe motivations and barriers to planting in Northern Ireland from a local landowner's perspective. All results collated as an outcome of questionnaires and interviews are detailed. The information wiII be of use to the development process of private sector forestry, providing an insight into the needs and requirements of private landowners, the general public, industry groups and other stakeholders. The results identified a strong need for further forest cover to support the local environment, social needs and rural development. The challenges facing private sector development were highlighted and included a lack of insight and knowledge into forestry perceptions, a lack ofa forestry tradition as well as a lack of a coherent and structured policy and suitable incentive tools. Overall a positive attitude to forestry was found with regional differences in attitudes detected. The study highlighted the importance of considering the perceptions of society in policy formation and the need for regional specific considerations. In terms of planting decisions the study identified a number of principle factors associated with the decision to plant. The findings suggest that local landowners appear to hold a complex relationship between a desire to improve the environment and the necessity to maintain adequate business decisions. Interestingly, finances were a key issue to many landowners; however, it was not considered the main motivation to plant. The study suggests that in order to improve forest reserves landowners need to be encouraged beyond the draw of financial aid and the barriers to planting must be removed. Further promotion and active involvement from the Forest Service and associated bodies need to be conducted in order to highlight the financial and extension services available to support private sector planting. The results of the case studies stressed the complexities of private sector planting, further highlighting the need for improved education, stable and coherent polices and a wider use of enabling incentives mechanisms such as research and training in the region. A suitable incentive program for private afforestation in Northern Ireland would foster the principles of sustainability, enabling forestry to be considered a viable option against other land use options such as agriculture. This thesis is an original contribution to this field of knowledge and it equips policy makers and associate stakeholder groups with a full understanding of the needs, challenges and potential of private forestry in Northern Ireland and provides it with a basis on which to ensure forestry provides the region with unique environmental, economic and social benefits.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available