The Chairman of Leitrim IFA James Gallagher has called for the immediate suspension of the current forestry planting, approvals to plant and issuing applications to plant with immediate effect until an IFA study is complete.
Mr Gallagher was addressing the recent Leitrim IFA Open Farmer Meeting in Drumshanbo, when he stated that the IFA National Council have fully supported a resolution from Leitrim IFA Executive that an assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of afforestations within the county should be undertaken.
Further resolutions from Roscommon and Sligo IFA have supported Leitrim IFA.
Gallagher explained by suspending forestry planting it will allow time to carry out a thorough appraisal and a complete objective assessment on the full impact of afforestation on farm families and rural communities.
He outlined that recently an IFA delegation led by IFA President Joe Healy toured the county and were “alarmed at the level of forestry in the county and the impact it was having on rural isolation to the detriment of parishes.”
The Leitrim IFA Chairman said changing land type from traditional farming to trees has “massive consequences in the changes in population and has seen the closure of churches, schools and shops, affecting the whole fabric of rural areas.”
Leitrim IFA are not totally opposed to forestry but now with 18.9% of the land area of the county planted, farmers feel that Leitrim has taken more that is fair share.
Leitrim IFA total supports a balanced regional spread of sustainable forestry throughout Ireland.
Speaking at the IFA Open Farmers Meeting, Adrian Leddy, IFA Regional Development Officer, called on all the pillar banks to support young farmers in the purchase and development of farm land.
“For the future of farming in Leitrim young farmers needs to be supported against the forestry companies with big outside investors.
“The IFA have got great support for the need to carry out this study within the county from community groups, businesses, tourism and all local public representatives.”
The call from Leitrim IFA this week follows Cllr Justin Warnock's request on Monday, October 15, for a moratorium on forestry plantations from the Minister of Agriculture.
Cllr Warnock asked his fellow councillors to support asking Leitrim County Council to write to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed TD to seek a moratorium on all forestry plantations in Leitrim until such time that Leitrim County Council has carried out their review of the Landscape Character Assessment Plan and the County Development Plan.
Cllr Warnock called on the council to “preserve our county.” Cllr Sean McDermott called it a “timely motion” noting the issue with one-off housing in the county. Cllr Mary Bohan supported it but said unless forestry is subject to planning the council has no say.
Cllr Warnock said TDs should be pushing the agenda. Cllr Padraig Fallon said Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Kenny is introducing a bill on forestry and one-off housing and he asked councillors to lobby their TDs to support the bills.
The meeting acknowledged that recently more funding was allocated to forestry nationally.