A couple of years ago, bigwigs in the forestry industry and the Department of Agriculture got together to consider how to "sell" the idea of planting farmland with forestry. Planting targets are not being met, despite grants so generous, the government might as well be buying the land outright and putting it under trees. But farmers value their family heritage more than suits in Dublin could imagine. They value what their parents and grandparents fought for and worked hard for. They do not rush into quitting their farmland because private forestry interests or a minister tells them its the right thing to do. Added to that inherent value is a realisation that the model of forestry in Ireland just basically kills the community in many areas. After your 15 years of grants are over, good luck to you. Take a drive through any heavily forested area for yourself some time. It is quite shocking and not many know about it, because there are not many there to tell the tale!!
Nowhere has the proliferation of forestry had more of an impact than in parts of East Kerry and North Cork and West Limerick. Have a scan of these areas on Google Maps satellite view. More than 50% of the land there is under forestry. This has currently been stopped, since the EU judged Ireland's use of taxpayers money to continue to destroy the remaining habitats was contrary to European law.
Of course, foresters (and some politicians who obviously consider there must be votes in those deserted areas of forestry!!) don't like that and they have got together to push the forestry agenda from every angle. Lobbying government, ads on the radio an in the papers, etc. etc.
This below contains excerpts from Radio Kerry's agritime show, aimed at farmers.
This interview contains Trump-like ascertains that sitka spruce is the biggest tool Ireland has against climate change. Hell no its not! Peatlands are by far and away the greatest resource we have in that regard, yet the guy has an issue with environmental regulations. Forestry has been a real success story here according to him, yet the dogs on the street know what a shambles it has been. Very little native trees, a dominance of non-native green concrete. Remember, in other European countries, Sitka spruce is now classed as an invasive species!
Really, there is no need to go on, let this guy speak for himself and make up your own mind.
Our question is however, why does the media facilitate this (is it basically a big long ad that is paid for by the forestry sector?) and what role does the regulator, the Forest Service have....seems from a scroll through Forest Industries Ireland Twitter account that they are in with Forest Service and ministers....