IFA National Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming said that IFA’s meeting with the Ash Dieback review group yesterday was an opportunity to highlight the critical concerns and needs of forest owners impacted by ash dieback.
“Our message to the Ash Dieback review group is the same communication we have repeatedly delivered to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: a new scheme is required that fully compensates those affected by the disease.”
IFA has developed a document outlining the concerns regarding Ash Dieback support and key changes required. The document is available to download here.
Jason Fleming said without addressing Ash Dieback, confidence in the sector will not be rebuilt.
In June 2023, Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett, announced the establishment of an independent review of the Ash dieback support scheme.
IFA is seeking the following changes to the current Ash Dieback scheme:
- Provide a 100% reconstitution grant for all infected plantations, enabling forest owners to clearfell and replant with tree species that satisfy their management objectives.
- Reinstate a 20-year premium on replanted land to incentivise the restoration of affected areas.
- Ensure adequate compensation for the value of the timber asset, based on the valuation of healthy ash plantations at the time of clearance.
- Allow farmers affected by ash dieback the option not to replant, without penalties, under specific circumstances.
- The Government must implement stronger control measures to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases of tree species that are grant aided under the Afforestation Scheme. The Government must provide assurance to farmers that they will be properly compensated if a disease puts their investment at risk.
On a related but also critical matter, the introduction of a financial support scheme is needed to address roadside ash trees.
“A new scheme to provide grants to support farmers to hire relevant professionals to safely fell roadside trees affected by ash dieback is also badly needed,” concluded Jason Fleming.