In 2016, 434 hectares of Leitrim land was planted with forestry. In the first three months of this year 24 hectares have been planted across the county.
The details were released in Dáil Eireann last week by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.
Following a question from Roscommon Fianna Fáil Deputy Eugene Murphy about the percentage of forestry in Leitrim, Roscommon and Galway, the Minister said the National Forest Inventory is due to be calculated this year. It was last taken in 2012 and at that time 16.7% of Leitrim land was covered in forestry. That figure was high compared with Roscommon’s 10.2% and Galway’s 9.7% and expectations are that it will have risen further in the past few years.
Deputy Murphy asked the Minister if local authorities will be given the power to veto further planting in areas when the projected target of 17% is achieved by 2020 in view of the negative impact on farming practices in small rural townlands.
Minister Creed informed the TD under Ireland’s forest policy the aim is to increase forest cover to 18% by 2050.
He said, “It is difficult to say what rules will be place that far forward but currently the establishment of new forests are subject to rigorous checks and balances which undergo careful planning by professional foresters.”
The Minister believes forestry “has an important role to play in improving the quality of life in rural Ireland.”
But locally there have been numerous calls from farming organisations and local groups and politicians to halt the progression of private planting in Leitrim.
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