EU report highlights failure of Irish Forestry policy – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed an EU level report which has highlighted the plight of communities in County Leitrim faced with the Irish government forestry policy that has led to a proliferation of invasive forest species and corporate land grabbing.
Speaking following the publication this week of the Report “EU Forests in Danger”, which highlights management, biodiversity and community rights issues across 11 EU Member States, Carthy said:
“The Irish Government’s failures to plan for carbon reduction targets set decades ago should not force a sacrifice of a fair transition for communities. A fair transition is one that includes communities in decisions taken to achieve policy objectives. It is something the Irish Government is exhibiting no interest in when it comes to forestry in the West of Ireland. That much is clear by this report.
“This report highlights that, in the guise of climate action, 100% exchequer funded subsidies are being used to cover the purchase of land and planting of invasive forest species in counties such as Leitrim.
“These forests are ecological dead zones. And, as more and more farmers are forced off their land, and peatland and animal nesting grounds are transformed into fast-growing Sitka plantations, communities are being side-lined.
“It is now clear that the government is willing to go to great lengths to give an appearance of action to offset carbon emissions from other parts of the economy. And it equally clear that, rather than actually tackling emissions, the Government is instead spinning a failed forest strategy as some sort of economic accomplishment for the region.
“The fact of the matter is that what passes for a forestry policy in Ireland is benefiting neither the environment nor the local economy.
“I am glad that EU-level organisations are taking notice of what is happening in the West of Ireland and I hope that the report published this week will highlight the failures at a domestic and international level.
“The authors of the report, Fern, an EU-level organisation dedicated to protecting forests as well as the rights of communities living in their wake, are a serious body that cannot be ignored. One of Fern’s Forest and Climate experts, Julia Christian, visited Leitrim last year on my invitation to meet local communities and address a conference I organised on these issues. It was clear from her contribution that it is possible to have a holistic forestry policy that benefits communities economically and socially and also works to help our environment. It is clear that the strategy pursued by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments over the past decade does not meet those objectives.
“Unless and until government policy changes then we will see greater scrutiny on Ireland’s so-called forestry strategy as an example of worst practice” he concluded.
The paper published by Fern can be accessed here: https://fern.org/sites/default/files/news-pdf/EU%20forests%20in%20danger%20Jan%202019.pdf