Terms of reference for Leitrim forestry study published

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has published the terms of reference for a study into the effects of forestry plantation in Co. Leitrim.

The study will be led by Dr. Aine Ni Dhubhain and Dr. Julie Ballweg of UCD, both of whom have met with Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the department with responsibility for forestry, to discuss future plans for the study.

The terms of reference, as published by the department, are as follows:

  • To assess the social impacts of forestry in Co. Leitrim, including the attitudes of people living there; this assessment will be based on consultations locally with farmers, non-farmers and other interested parties;
  • To assess the economic impact of forestry for Co. Leitrim, including total employment supported by the sector;
  • To assess the impact of on-farm incomes relative to other types of farming;
  • To consider the non-timber outputs of forestry in Co. Leitrim;
  • To assess the current state of environmental regulation of forestry in Co. Leitrim.

According to a statement from the department, the study will cover the entirety of Co. Leitrim, and will assess the attitudes of people to forestry in the county, which is the most heavily afforested in Ireland in terms of proportional area.

The statement added that public consultations will be a significant aspect of the study, and Dr. Ni Dhubhain will announce further details on how that process will be conducted in the near future.

The final report of the study is expected to be published by August of this year.

The issue of afforestation in Co. Leitrim has long been controversial, and this study was announced following a protest outside the Dail on January 30 organised by the ‘Save Leitrim’ Group, which has called for research to be carried out into the effects of plantations in the county.