SEEFA Eagerly Anticipates Details on Ash Dieback Aid

SEEFA cautiously welcomes support for forest owners affected by ash dieback, awaits further details

The Social, Economic and Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) has cautiously welcomed the recent announcement of support for forest owners impacted by ash dieback, while emphasizing the need for further clarity on the specifics of the plan. On Tuesday, April 30, the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine unveiled a much-anticipated support package, featuring enhanced grant rates for the removal and replanting of affected trees, along with a separate payment of €5,000 per hectare for those participating in the clearing and replanting efforts.

The Ash Dieback Action Plan has been met with a general sense of approval as a positive step forward. However, concerns persist within the forestry community regarding the adequacy of the financial assistance provided, particularly in terms of compensating ash plantation owners for their incurred losses. SEEFA highlighted the importance of establishing precise details pertaining to timelines, specific requirements, and the terms and conditions that landowners will be required to adhere to.

Padraig Egan, chairperson of SEEFA, expressed the organization’s full support for the aid being extended to landowners and farmers affected by ash dieback. Egan underscored the belief that the support package will serve as an incentive for more landowners to participate in the scheme, thereby contributing towards achieving environmental objectives such as fostering active carbon-sequestering forests. SEEFA pointed out that due to a decade of inaction and subpar policy implementation, Irish foresters have been hampered in their efforts to address the challenges posed by ash dieback.

Criticism was directed at the government by SEEFA for its failure to convene a taskforce dedicated to addressing the ash dieback issue, despite the taskforce’s prior establishment. Egan expressed disappointment over SEEFA’s exclusion from the taskforce meetings and consultations leading up to the recent announcement. Additionally, concerns were raised by the organization regarding the insufficiency of resources allocated in the support package, particularly in terms of ongoing maintenance costs, which could potentially leave forest owners facing financial losses.

SEEFA reiterated its stance of awaiting further details and emphasized the importance of continued engagement with the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine to ensure that farmers and landowners receive the necessary compensation they require.

The sentiments echoed by SEEFA found resonance in the remarks made by Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, food, and the marine, Claire Kerrane. Kerrane characterized the action plan as a positive development, signaling a step in the right direction. However, she stressed the need for greater clarity on the specifics of the scheme and emphasized the importance of transparent communication with farmers and forestry owners affected by ash dieback to outline the implications of the government’s announcement for them.

Kerrane highlighted the absence of certain recommendations from an independent review conducted last year in the current action plan, raising questions about the comprehensiveness of the measures being proposed. The need for a more detailed and inclusive approach in addressing the challenges posed by ash dieback was underscored as essential for ensuring the effective implementation of the support package and the provision of adequate assistance to those impacted by the forestry disease.

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.

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