May 27th 2015
ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the replanting rule and the protection of the hen harrier are serious barriers to farmers diversifying into forestry.
“The compulsion to replant land after clearfelling is discouraging many farmers, particularly those on good land, from getting involved in forestry,” he said. “If such farmers had the option of returning their land to grass after a single crop of trees, this might prompt more of them to go down that route.”
“Forestry can be a very profitable enterprise, and farmers may find that they want to continue in it long-term, but at least removing the compulsion to re-plant offers them the security of knowing they or their children can return to other types of farming if they wish to do so in the future.”
“The hen harrier is a serious issue in whole swathes of the country where land is particularly suited to growing conifers and not suitable for many other farming systems, and where the forestry option could provide farmers with a much-needed extra source of income if it were not for the stringent regulations on hen harrier protection.”
“ICSA is now calling on Minister Coveney to review these two issues immediately with a view to encouraging more farmers to get involved in forestry,” concluded Mr. Kent.