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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Forestry protest: ‘We can’t plant or fell trees in this country’

More than 100 representatives from the private Irish forestry sector hosted a, Save Irish Forestry, protest outside Government buildings yesterday (Wednesday).

The protest took place to highlight the crisis facing the industry.

SEEFA – the Social, Economic, Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland – is seeking direct intervention from the Department of the Taoiseach, as “other options have failed”.

The group said over 1,000 afforestation applications and thousands of felling and road licence applications are still awaiting a decision from government.

SEEFA is highlighting the “severe” social, economic and environmental impact of this crisis.

“Government delays in granting licenses is forcing imports of timber. Irish trees cannot be planted or felled, threatening 12,000 jobs in the industry.”

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Save Irish Forestry 

Last week, SEEFA hosted several social media protests targeting TDs all over the country.

These protests highlighted three core issues facing the industry which are:

  1. Social – The lack of licences means that there is no planting or harvesting taking place, greatly impacting jobs within the industry;
  2. Economic – House prices continue to be inflated as we have to import timber because of a lack of licences to cut our own;
  3. Environmental – Due to not planting enough trees in the past 5 years, 5.4 million tonnes of carbon will not be captured.
Proposed solutions

Representatives of SEEFA met with a number of government TDs yesterday to outline five proposed solutions to the crisis.

They have called on government to implement the following “as a matter of urgency”:

  1. Fully implementing the MacKinnon report in a defined timeframe, with immediate implementation of the environmental planning proposal;
  2. Introduce maximum timelines for every application in a functioning licensing system;
  3. Fully integrating afforestation into the next CAP;
  4. Creating a Forestry Development Agency to promote and represent the sector;
  5. Political support allied to leadership in the forest service is essential to achieve climate change targets and to support existing challenges for forest owners.

The group said, “the forestry industry is in serious chaos”. “We can’t plan or fell trees in this country – it’s time for change.”

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