IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Michael Fleming said that Forest Management Protocol in Hen Harrier SPAs, which allowed a very small afforestation programme, must be re-instated immediately, as an interim solution until the Threat Response Plan is developed.
Michael Fleming said, “It is three years since the protocol was suspended and the first meeting of the Consultative Committee on the Threat Response Plan has yet to happen. The rate of progress by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in developing the plan is unacceptable and is seriously undermining the NATURA concept”.
The IFA Forestry Chairman said that the NPWS were dragging their feet and doing unnecessary damage to the perceptions of conservation by not allowing an extremely limited planting programme. He said that the latest research for University College Cork (UCC) showed that the safeguards agreed in the Forest Management Protocol had been working, that the breeding pairs had increased and had proven their ability to adapt successfully to changes in their landscape habitat.
Michael Fleming said farmers are not being treated fairly, their land has been significantly devalued by the designation and now they are being denied an opportunity to earn an income. “IFA believe that small areas of new forests, carefully established and managed as foreseen by the protocol would actually improve the status of these areas for the hen harrier.”