‘Bus-loads’ of forestry protesters to descend on Dail

The Save Leitrim group, which opposes forestry planting in the county, is planning a rally outside the Dail on Wednesday, January 30, to voice its concerns over the continued afforestation across Ireland.

The group is calling on people from communities across Ireland, who are affected by afforestation policies, to attend the rally, and claims that it will see “several buses travel to the capital on Wednesday” so people can take part.

Save Leitrim claims to have the support of the Irish Wildlife Trust, as well as communities across the country, including in Clare, Cork, Kerry and Wicklow, from where people will make the trip up to Dublin for the 11:00am demonstration.

Irish Government forestry policy has now reached a point where it is incentivising the replacement of people in communities with large swathes of non-native mono-culture Sitka spruce. The plantation of the Sitka spruce has been going on for 40 years or more.

The group claims that, in Leitrim, “well over 50% of the available lands are covered in industrial conifer plantations”.

It also argues that this policy of afforestation is having a “very serious negative impact on people, their lives, mental health, businesses, communities, biodiversity and wildlife”.

Afforestation also has a negative impact on farmers, according to the group:

Farmers and farms are being displaced and their numbers reduced, as farm after farm is being sold or planted. This has a down-stream knock-on decline in businesses supporting and servicing farmers (agri-suppliers, vets, marts, contractors, machinery mechanics, etc) and also in the towns and villages in these areas.

“Farmers cannot expand or develop their holdings due to the hike in the price of land by the tax breaks and grants for forestry,” said a statement from Save Leitrim.

The statement continued: “We are now insisting that our elected representatives listen to the people and that the few politicians responsible for Ireland’s failing forestry policy immediately change tack and redesign a people-friendly sustainable forestry policy.”

The group’s founder, Justin Warnock, speaking to AgriLand last week, argued that those concerned have to take to the streets of Dublin to make their voices heard, as they are not be being listened to.

“It’s now time for our Government to listen to the people of the north-west and to the environmentalists who know that policy needs to change before the region is buried under trees,” said Warnock.