IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Hennessy called on the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Phil Hogan to remove the embargo on forestry operations in Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
Pat Hennessy stated that changes to the Forestry Management Protocol in Hen Harrier SPAs were imposed without any consultation or notification and had resulted in further restrictions on planting and harvesting.
He continued that there was no evidence that the forest operations currently being practiced had negatively impacted on the hen harrier population. “The numbers of hen harriers has remained steady over the past number of years and surveys have shown that restocked forests are now the preferred nesting sites for the bird.”
Pat Hennessy said the restrictions imposed are disproportionate and suggested that the Forestry Management Protocol in Hen Harrier SPAs remain operational until relevant stakeholders have been consulted and an expert group has been established to determine the real risk to the bird.
“All restrictions imposed should be proportionate to the risk to the hen harrier and should be based on scientific research,” said Mr. Hennessy.