Oireachtas agriculture committee chair ‘hopeful’ over forestry appointment

The chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has welcomed the appointment of an advisor for the implementation of the Mackinnon Report into the forestry licencing system.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill said that the appointment of Jo O’Hara, the former head forestry official in Scotland, was “long anticipated”.

The Fianna Fáil deputy said it is an issue that the committee “has been meeting on for a number of weeks now”.

The committee has met a number of times now to discuss forestry and the major issues facing the sector, as well as the pressing need to implement the Mackinnon Report.

The Mackinnon Report was commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to review the processes and procedures for the licencing of afforestation and felling in Ireland.

Cahill said that since he took over the chairmanship of the Oireachtas agriculture committee, it has placed a “heavy emphasis on addressing the pressing issues facing the forestry sector”.

“I very much welcome the appointment and I am hopeful that this will go a long way in ensuring that we tackle the major threats to the future of the forestry sector at the moment,” Cahill added.

Appointment

Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett confirmed the appointment of an advisor on the implementation of the Mackinnon Report yesterday evening (Thursday, November 19).

Jo O’Hara was formally a British forestry commissioner; the chief forester for Scotland; and the chief executive of Scottish Forestry. She now works as a private consultant.

Announcing the appointment, Minister Hackett said: “The Mackinnon Report was commissioned to review our processes and procedures and ensure that collectively we are fit for purpose to deliver the ambitious targets for the forestry sector in Ireland.

Its implementation is set out as a key forestry action in the Programme for Government, and I am delighted to have Jo O’Hara on board to advise on this process.

“I met with Jo recently, and was impressed with her enthusiasm for forestry and woodland creation. She understands the wide range of concerns here in Ireland in relation to forestry,” she added.