Reminder: Conference on forestry concerns takes place tonight

Growing concerns regarding forestry expansion will be the focus of a national conference being held by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

Taking place tonight at 8:00pm in the Bush Hotel Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, the conference is set to be attended by a number of public representatives from both at home and in Europe.

Commenting on the event, INHFA spokesperson on forestry Gerry Loftus said: “The conference will address how the forestry expansion is impacting on farming, communities and the environment.

It will also provide the opportunity for those currently living in the shadow of a rapidly-increasing forestry belt to come and have their say.

Citing a report from the Council for Forestry Research and Development (COFORD), issued in late 2016, Loftus said: “An agenda is clearly developing that could see large areas of land in western counties planted.”

The report is claimed to highlight 1.8 million hectares of land alleged to have limited agricultural activity, with 1.08 million hectares suitable for forestry. This, he added, amounts to over 25% of the agricultural land and, if implemented on the ground, will have devastating consequences for counties like Leitrim.

“We need to look at exactly what we want from forestry and look at the bigger picture as regards rural depopulation, water quality and the effect it can have on rivers and streams,” he concluded.