INHFA calls for new ap­proach on forestry

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - FARMING MATTERS -

THE Ir­ish Natura & Hill Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (INHFA) have out­lined the need to find so­lu­tions to the Gov­ern­ments out­dated model of forestry at meet­ings held in Brus­sels and with Min­is­ter An­drew Doyle.

Forestry and Cli­mate Change Spokesper­son Gerry Lof­tus stated how “at these meet­ings we have raised the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the cur­rent ap­proach of in­dus­trial plan­ta­tions of pre­dom­i­nantly fast grow­ing non-na­tive conifers for farm­ers, ru­ral communities and the en­vi­ron­ment. In do­ing so we have also out­lined so­lu­tions around sus­tain­able af­foresta­tion which has the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute sub­stan­tially to a fu­ture for fam­ily farms and communities, cli­mate change, habi­tats and bio­di­ver­sity, the en­vi­ron­ment and the ru­ral econ­omy.”

The model cur­rently in place added Lof­tus “has opened doors to big busi­ness and spec­u­la­tors. They re­main anony­mous avail­ing of grants and pre­mi­ums but as they aren’t part of the lo­cal econ­omy –lo­cal communities and farm fam­i­lies suf­fer. In rais­ing these is­sues the INHFA has called for re­spon­si­ble land-based in­vest­ment prac­tices and a change of ap­proach which will fo­cus on the fol­low­ing:

· Trans­parency around forestry in­vest­ment by mak­ing all rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the pub­lic ex­cept when sub­ject to le­git­i­mate busi­ness con­fi­den­tial­ity.

· Zero tol­er­ance of cor­rup­tion.

· Prac­tices which in­her­ently mit­i­gate the risks for all.

· Prac­tices which in­crease ben­e­fits for lo­cal peo­ple and communities in­clud­ing cre­at­ing di­rect and in­di­rect rev­enue gen­er­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal communities.

· Prac­tices which are en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able and en­sure the sus­tain­able use of nat­u­ral re­sources.”

In 2008 con­tin­ued Lof­tus “our econ­omy crashed and at the time our Government said they never saw it com­ing, but the con­se­quences of that crash con­tin­ues to this day through higher taxes and re­duced ser­vices. If our cur­rent forestry pol­icy does not change we will face sim­i­lar con­se­quences both en­vi­ron­men­tally and eco­nom­i­cally as we fail to meet our cli­mate change obli­ga­tions.”

He con­cluded by stat­ing how “we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure this pol­icy is changed and un­til such time as this hap­pens we will con­tinue our cam­paign to pro­tect the tax­payer, the en­vi­ron­ment, ru­ral fam­i­lies and communities by seek­ing to put in place re­spon­si­ble land-based in­vest­ment prac­tices.”

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