A new ash dieback grant must be introduced to cover some of the financial loss incurred by forest owners, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).
IFA Farm Forestry Committee chairman Vincent Nally welcomed the report yesterday (Tuesday, March 2) from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on ‘Issues Impacting the Forestry Sector in Ireland’.
Commenting on it, Nally said: “Given the attention in recent times on the licensing crisis, I would like to commend the committee for bringing a renewed focus to ash dieback and the forest owners whose woodlands are being devastated by the ash dieback disease.
I would call on the minister to act on the recommendation in the report and immediately introduce a new and properly-funded ash dieback scheme.
He said the IFA is seeking the introduction of a grant to cover some of the financial loss incurred by forest owners.
The grant should cover the cost of felling infected forests and owners who replant must be able to draw a premium for 15 years, the chairman added.
“The treatment of the forest owners affected by the disease has been scandalous. The Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme must be scrapped.
“It’s unworkable and is forcing forest owners to continue to invest in a dying crop and change to a continuous cover forest system, not to mention the serious health and safety risks of managing infected trees,” he said.
“I hope that the department heeds the report and that lessons have been learned that will prevent future disease importation, which is a huge concern for farmers at the moment due the volume of timber and plants being imported,” he said.
Regarding the forest licence recommendations, he welcomed the committee’s view that farmers must have certainty on timeframe for when they will receive a decision on their licence and that forest road and thinning licences should be included as a condition of their afforestation licenses rather than individual applications.