IFA calls for further supports in Ash Dieback Scheme

Forest owners affected by the ash dieback disease are said to be “furious” over the proposed level of support under the draft Ash Dieback Scheme.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) farm forestry chairman, Vincent Nally, has said: “The level of supports is completely inadequate to compensate forest owners for the financial loss.

It’s obvious that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine did not meaningfully consider the submissions made during the 2018 consultation.

“From the outset, the treatment and engagement with forest owners affected by disease, whose investments and pensions have been devastated, has been disappointing”, he said.

Continuing, the IFA’s forestry chair said: “Ash dieback has a devastating consequence for the survival, growth and wood quality of ash trees, and therefore has had a knock-on impact on the commercial value of the timber crop.

Research suggests where dieback is severe, the best approach is to harvest remaining commercial timber before value depreciation and replant the area with other tree species.

He said that the any new scheme must support forest owners to replant. That is why IFA is calling for a “significant overhaul” of the proposed scheme.

Nally outlined: “The IFA cannot accept a scheme that excludes forest owners affected or significantly reduces the level of support available based on age, height or the extent of the disease

The IFA has called for a scheme that supports affected farmers through the following measures:
  • A reconstitute grant for all plantations affected by ash dieback;
  • A 15-year premium to be paid on replanted land;
  • An option not to be replanted under certain circumstances.

“Through no fault of the forest owner, plantations are being destroyed by the disease and their investment ruined.

Concluding, Nally called for “swift action” and said the IFA would not accept Government “dragging its feet” on the issue.