INHFA seeks clarity from Ryan on ‘rewilding the country’ comments

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) is seeking clarity from Eamon Ryan, the leader of the Green Party, over comments he made regarding the need to “rewild large parts of the country”.

Ryan made the suggestion, along with a number of others, in relation to the need for a new ‘land use plan’ under the Climate Action Plan, which was revealed by the Government last week.

“Deputy Ryan needs to clarify where this rewilding should take place in terms of land type, and if this should be just confined to public lands,” said Colm O’Donnell, president of the INHFA.

According to the INHFA, the concept of ‘rewilding’ – which has gained popularity in the Scandinavian countries and most recently in Scotland – involves “the cessation of farming and all other managed activities”.

O’Donnell said: “While the concept may seem good for many environmentalists, it could undermine biodiversity and increase our carbon emissions”.

The newly re-elected INHFA president argued that rewilding will “dramatically increase the possibility of large wildfires that, as well as destroying the habitats and wildlife, will also, through these fires, release tons of carbon and increase our carbon emissions”.

While it may not pose the same problems in Scandinavia due to much reduced growth rates, for Ireland it will be counter-productive.

O’Donnell concluded by saying: “We need to recognise that we have a managed landscape, and the best way it can deliver for the public and environmental good is through ongoing farming activity that is sustainable and appropriate to the land type”.

Among the other suggestions Green Party leader Ryan put forward were: more natural forests; devising a future for Irish horticulture; improving water quality; and growing dense hedgerows and agroforestry.