Forestry Fiasco Looming as Planting Delays Threaten Disaster, Warns TD

Sinn Féin's Claire Kerrane Warns of Forestry Sector Disaster due to Government Inaction

Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson, Claire Kerrane, has sounded the alarm on the government’s lack of action regarding low afforestation rates, warning that it could lead to a disaster in the forestry sector. Kerrane recently brought up her concerns about planting rates with Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett, in the Dáil. Seeking an update on the approach to tackling low afforestation rates under the new Forestry Programme 2023-2027, Kerrane expressed her disappointment with the Minister’s response.

The Sinn Féin TD emphasized that her interactions with farmers, forestry owners, and sector representatives have revealed serious apprehensions about afforestation within the framework of the new programme. Kerrane highlighted the disconnect between the Minister’s optimism about the programme’s reception in the forestry sector and the actual concerns raised by stakeholders. “Either she is burying her head in the sand or failing to acknowledge the issues that have been consistently brought to her attention for months now,” Kerrane remarked.

Concerns have been repeatedly raised with the Minister that the rules governing afforestation under the new programme are overly restrictive, potentially rendering vast swathes of land ineligible for planting. Kerrane stressed that many farmers and foresters have expressed interest in planting but are hindered by these rules or the costs associated with land surveys. She clarified that the issue is not about endorsing the planting of Special Protection Areas or unsuitable peatlands, as the Minister insinuated, but about arbitrary rules excluding viable land from afforestation efforts.

Despite the government’s stated goal of increasing afforestation rates for environmental and economic benefits, Kerrane pointed out that the actual planting rates under the new programme remain dismally low. With only 130 hectares planted in January 2024 and a similar projection for February, it appears unlikely that the 2024 afforestation rates will surpass the 1,650 hectares planted in 2023, falling far short of the annual target of 8,000 hectares.

While the Minister acknowledges the importance of boosting afforestation levels, Kerrane criticized the disparity between rhetoric and action evident in their exchange in the Dáil. The establishment of an afforestation working group, as mentioned by the Minister, is a step in the right direction, indicating an awareness of the issue. However, Kerrane stressed that without a prompt review of the current Forestry Programme and sustained dialogue with sector representatives, meaningful progress in this area is unlikely to materialize.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

Leave a Replay

Scroll to Top