Oireachtas Forestry report presents route to rebuild trust – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has welcomed the launch of an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee report on the challenges facing the forestry sector.
Carthy highlighted that a recurring theme in the Committee’s engagements was of government failing farmers involved in forestry, warning that the launch of the report provided what could be a final opportunity to ‘win back farmers’ who were a critical component in any forestry policy. He also said that it is imperative that local communities feel ownership of that policy as it pertains to their areas.
Teachta Carthy said:
“A working forestry strategy should deliver for local communities, for the rural economy and for the environment. The Department of Agriculture has allowed a policy to evolve that delivers none of these things.
“Trust in the department has broken down amongst all sectors in forestry. The issues facing the timber industry, farmers, communities and environmentalists have been known for some time but government has allowed the failures to fester to the crisis point you now face.
“Farmer participation in forestry has fallen to perilously low levels. This is at the heart of the challenges facing Irish afforestation policy.
“If we are to make a success of agro-forestry in this state, the department must win back the trust of farmers, and make it economically appealing to them.
“The Oireachtas Agriculture Committee report sets out the course for rebuilding that trust. It calls on the government once and for all to properly support all of those effected by Ash Dieback. It demands assurances for farmers regarding the licensing system and it seeks measure to ensure farmers are not disadvantaged due to the commercially smaller nature of their forestry.
“The report also specifically calls for economic supports for farmers to ensure the re-enter and remain within forestry and that farmers should not be discriminated against based upon their ability to conduct their own Natura Impact Assessment.
“The report also calls for a specific strategy to promote indigenous, broadleaf planting and for research to ensure the reconstitution of the Elm and Ash species.
“Everything in this report is achievable but it will require government resources and political will – it is up to the Minister now to deliver what is required”.