IFA’s new Farm Forestry Chairman Michael Fleming has called for the reduction of environmental restrictions placed on potential forestry land and the urgent support for the mobilisation of the private forest resource.
Speaking at the IFA National Farm Forestry Committee meeting Mr Fleming said ‘’The immediate priority for the Minister with responsibility for Forestry Shane McEntee, must be to reduce the restrictions which are preventing forest planting on productive land’’. He went on to say ‘’that forestry land should be evaluated based on production potential and that claims over environmental damage need substantial further study. With future demand already set to surpass our national supply it is essential that these lands be made available for planting.’’
‘’On the mobilisation of the private timber resource, serious changes are required. The attempt by local county councils to impose bonds on private forest owners for the construction of road entrances will be resisted by the IFA. A national plan from the Department is urgently needed to ensure that everyone is committed to the mobilisation of this national resource.’’
The forest industry is valued at €2.2 billion to our national economy while 12,000 persons are employed directly in the Forestry sector. The value of this national resource can only be harnessed if the timber, the primary product, can be mobilised said the Chairman.
Concluding, the IFA Farm Forestry Chairman said that continued Government financial support for both the afforestation programme and the support schemes is fundamental to our timber production volumes in the future. The premium payments combined with the support given under the various support schemes play a vital role in supporting farm income and underpin timber production.