IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Michael Fleming has met with Heather Humphries TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to outline concerns in relation to a draft document “Hen Harrier Conservation and Forestry Sector in Ireland” that was presented to the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultative Committee.
Mr. Fleming said that the forest sector contributes €2.3 billon to the Irish economy and supports nearly 12,000 job predominantly in rural areas. He said that the current restrictions being enforced in the Hen Harrier SPAs, bans on afforestation, and restrictions on forest operations are not delivering Hen Harrier conservation and must be removed.
“I firmly believe that responsible forest management and Hen Harrier conservation are wholly compatible”, said Mr. Fleming. “IFA has joined forces with the forest sector to submit a position paper to the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultative Committee that summaries how the forest sector can deliver real conservation benefits to the Hen Harrier.
IFA is looking for a return to pre-2011 procedures within the SPAs where there was a limited afforestation programme and restrictions on forest operations were targeted on actual nest locations, said Mr. Fleming. This is the policy outside of the designated SPA’s where Hen Harrier numbers have increased.
Mr. Fleming stressed to Minister Humphrey’s that successful conservation requires effective and meaningful consultation that considers the views of all stakeholders. He said that the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan must provide practical conservations solutions that are proportionate to the risks involved and allows local farmers to realise the economic potential of their land.