The Green Party's Blaithin Gallagher
Bláithín Gallagher, National Coordinator of the Green Party and chair of the National Executive, welcomed The Green Party motion to transition forestry strategy from an industrial model to a close-to-nature, continuous cover model passed in the Dáil on Thursday, October 17.
“The current disconnected approach of planting fast growing non-native trees and clear-felling them, has created serious environmental problems and community backlash around the country,” she said.
“We in Co Leitrim have been particularly badly affected with communities fearing that trees were replacing people.
The new way, outlined in the Green Party motion, is a more connected approach using native trees, continuous cover, a close-to-nature approach, with community and farmer support.
The motion passed 70 to 38 in the Dáil.
Bláithín Gallagher said she was delighted to be part of the advisory group to the development of the motion.
“This Green Party motion provides a mandate for the development of a new forestry strategy in Ireland that will take us from a disconnected approach - using large machines, external contractors to a connected approach - using knowledge, competencies and practices in touch with nature and the community.
“It calls for a move away from the large scale monoculture Sitka Spruce plantations that have blighted the lives of many communities in Leitrim towards a more mixed, diverse forestry, including agroforestry, and a permanent woodland approach that would provide greater and more diverse social, environmental and economic benefits to society as a whole.”
Bláithín went on to say, “This approach optimises our use of forestry to address the challenges of the climate and biodiversity emergency in conjunction with the needs of our communities. It provides a flexible approach to forestry which will benefit local farmers and the wider community.”
Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Pippa Hackett said, “Communities impacted by forestry in Ireland have highlighted the need for a change in our afforestation model. Farmers themselves would appreciate a more flexible approach to planting.
“Now we see that politicians are catching up. It is vital if we want to use forestry to reduce our impact on the climate that we do it in a way that improves the environment, and benefits farmers and their farms.
“The benefits of the right kind of forestry are multiple. They can improve our air and water, stabilise soils, they can support biodiversity, protect against flooding, shelter livestock, provide a renewable resource of wood and food, and take carbon from our atmosphere.
“We need to bring everyone with us through this transition, and this Green Party motion is an important first step.”