Government commissions forestry study on Co. Leitrim

An independent study on the forestry sector in Co. Leitrim has been commissioned by the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle.

The study is in response to calls for a review of the effects of publicly-funded afforestation in the county.

The study will be led by senior lecturer in Agriculture and Forestry in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, Dr. Aine NI Dhubhain.

According to a statement from the Department of Agriculture, the exact terms of reference for the study will be finalised shortly and the report will be concluded by late-summer of this year.

Speaking at the Irish Farmers’ Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Minister Doyle said: “I have discussed this matter with the IFA and have agreed with their request for a study to be undertaken.

There are widely differing and often contradictory claims reported about the economic, social and environmental impacts of land use change to forestry.

“It’s important that these claims are evidence based and the goal of this study is to review some of the common claims and perceptions made about forestry in Co. Leitrim.”

Continuing, Minister Doyle said: “Its findings can provide information to local communities and the wider rural/agricultural sector so they understand the impacts of the expansion of the forest sector.

“It will also help to inform Government policy on forestry, rural development and land use.”

Minister Doyle stressed that there are no regional or county targets for forestry.

“We have engaged with all stakeholders and communities in the design and implementation of the current forestry programme and I have visited Co. Leitrim myself on different occasions to meet all groups.”

Concluding, the minister said: “This study will also engage with local communities and assess the impacts of forestry both positive and negative. I am sure all stakeholders will take this opportunity to engage and I would encourage full participation.”