Environmentalists and rural politicians alike have expressed concern over the damage plantation forestry could do to Ireland's natural habitats.
This week saw rural and urban TDs protest against the State's new forestry program with Coillte and British investment company Gresham House.
The scheme involves the purchasing of planted and unplanted land from private landowners to increase the number of forests in the country.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told On The Record that the deal will benefit farmers financially while increasing biodiversity.
"It's important that Coillte is in the afforestation space", he said.
"Again, they've a lot to offer, working with the vast majority of the afforestation, which will be farmer-led to identify particular opportunities and options and mechanisms for the state to work."
"That will have fantastic results in terms of biodiversity in the country and emissions reductions."
Even the government itself has criticised parts of the plan, but says it cannot stop it at this point.
Minister McConalogue said that the deal is more about farmers planting trees on their land, not handing that land over to a government or company.
"The government's key objective is to work to increase our forestation across the country and particularly to work with farmers, to incentivise farmers to actually do more forestry", he said.
"Farm families have to be at the centre of this forestry programme and they will be."
"In the new forestry programme the rate, for example, for planting native broadleafed trees is €1,100 per hectare, tax-free per year over 20 years."
"Any farmers listening in here today can really consider incorporating this as part of their farm enterprise."
Since 2004, Coillte has not been able to take afforestation further because of state aid restrictions.
"They've been managing our national forest estate, which is about half of the overall forests in the country", Minisiter McConalogue explained.
"But they want to get back in, and rightly so, back in to the afforestation space now."
The government has been working to support Coillte in this by allowing it to plant on public land and go into deals with private companies.
The deal with Gresham House amounts to 1% of Coillte's total afforestation target it hopes to hit by 2050.
Listen back to the full conversation here.
Main image shows Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue outside Leinster House. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie