SIPTU: ‘Up to 13,000 jobs could be lost in a very short time’ in forestry sector

Trade union SIPTU has called for “immediate action” to resolve problems in the regulatory and licencing system for tree felling that could result in “thousands of job losses”.

SIPTU sector organiser Willie Noone has expressed his concerns for the trade union’s members that are employed in enterprises such as sawmills and nurseries across the country.

Noone said:

“Due to a massive backlog of appeals for tree felling, extra resources must be immediately made available to the Forestry Appeals Committee and this must be followed by legislative changes to the Agricultural Appeals Act 2001.

If this is not done, up to 13,000 jobs could be lost in a very short time-frame.

“The Forestry Appeals Committee [FAC] operated by the Department of Agriculture is processing appeals at a rate of around 20 per month, while hundreds of appeals remain outstanding.

“The process of obtaining a licence for tree felling and then awaiting a decision on an appeal that may or may not have substance has made the current system inoperable.

“This problem is compounded by other delays which occur in attaining necessary road permits.”

He added: “The country is running out of indigenous timber and the importation of timber for wood related industries is largely cost prohibitive.”

SIPTU is calling on the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to “protect the forestry and connected resources by ensuring the necessary legislation is amended and the FAC is provided with extra resources and staff”.

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

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

“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.