New agriculture minister urged to take ‘swift action to remedy potentially catastrophic forestry crisis’

Forest Industries Ireland (FII), the Ibec representative body that supports over 12,000 jobs in the Irish forestry industry, today (Wednesday September 2) welcomed the official appointment of Minister Charlie McConalogue as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The forestry sector represents what is a €2.3 billion industry spread throughout 32 counties.

Forestry body’s concerns over felling delays

FII has been raising grave concerns about the current crisis and the potentially catastrophic delays in issuing felling licences.

“The current impasse…threatens to cause problems and disruption to the country’s pallet manufacturing sector which will affect exports, the house building sector and the price of housing as well as the hardware store network through the need to import foreign timber.”

FII is extremely concerned about delays in dealing with hundreds of “indiscriminate appeals which are set to cripple the entire sector” and cause widespread redundancies across the industry.

Thousands of farmers cannot harvest the trees they have invested in over the past few decades and are losing out on millions of euro in valuable income for their farm enterprises.

FII met with Minister McConalogue in April this year and outlined to him the “massive” potential that forestry plays in sequestering carbon while being a significant employer in rural communities.

With the maturation of the current forestry crop the industry is expected to create a further 6,000 jobs by 2035.

As Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on agriculture in the previous Dáil, FII says Minister McConalogue is very familiar with the crisis currently facing the industry and the body is looking forward to meeting him as soon as possible.

FII Director, Mark McAuley said:

We welcome the appointment of Minister McConalogue and we intend to bring to his attention the forestry sector’s potential to contribute further to farm incomes and rural job creation while being one of the biggest solutions to the climate change challenge.

“We intend to brief the new minister on the licensing backlog that is damaging the industry and we look forward to working with him to rapidly improve the current licensing and appeals process which threatens the viability of the sector.”