The European Committee of Regions met in Lough Rynn this week to talk about the rural revival of towns and villages. It is difficult to talk about rural revival in Leitrim without touching on the subject of forestry; but Scottish Minister Mairi Gougeon MSP certainly had a different view on the controversial issue when she spoke in Lough Rynn this week at the European Committee of Regions.
Cllr Enda Stenson brought up the forestry issue when he welcomed his EU colleagues to Mohill on Monday.
He said he believes Europe has an urban agenda and has ignored “vast swathes of rural areas,” he argued, “we have not got the finance we deserve to survive.”
Stenson said forestry was also an “EU agenda” which is grant aided and is pushing people out. He explained that when large companies outbid locals, people leave and “trees don't go into shops and support local communities.”
However, Minister Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment had a different perspective on forestry.
Speaking on keeping young people in rural Scotland, the minister said more forestry was one of her country's big aims.
While she noted the “conflict” of forestry, she said Scotland have a set “ambitious targets to plant 10,000 hectares of woodland until 2025 and then 15,000 hectares from there on.”
She said this is “vitally important for climate change, as a natural flood management and for local jobs.”
Ms Gougeon said their forestry plans went hand in hand with policies on rural communities and keeping young people in the country.
She did stress that the Scottish policy is about “the right tree in the right place” and using natural woodlands to help fight climate change.
The outspoken minister said Scotland are also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Save Leitrim had placed a number of banners campaigning against forestry on the route to Lough Rynn Castle Hotel to co-incide with the EU meeting.