Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has renewed his call for the government, and specifically Ministers, Doyle and Creed to intervene in what has become the disproportionate planting of forestry in Co. Leitrim.
“As things stand evidence suggests that already 50% of all agricultural land in Co. Leitrim is under forestry. This level of planting can have negative implications, and I am calling on the Ministers to address this often overlooked issue”, said Deputy Mac Sharry.
“Damaging effects include habitat loss, water pollution and fragmentation of flora and fauna but more importantly it is impacting on local communities and established local farming practices. Land prices are also being affected – with small local farmers, who are trying to build their own farms by buying nearby lands, being outbid by bigger, non-farming interested who have come into Leitrim to buy land to plant in order to take advantage of state supports and tax-free premiums.
“Another perhaps less noted impact is the number of heavy vehicles supporting the forestry industry in Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal on our secondary and local roads, which given their size and the frequency with which they are using these roads, are causing serious infrastructure problems. These roads are already in poor condition given the lack of investment over the past decade, and these heavy use vehicles are now exacerbating the problem.
“Our national target of up to 35% afforestation is an honourable ambition and one which can diversify land use and increase economic return, while at the same time helping us meet our climate change obligations under the Kyoto and other international agreements, it is simply unsustainable to allow the disproportionate and over planting of counties in the North West, particularly Co. Leitrim.
“Farmers are being pushed out of traditional food production and communities are suffering. Ministers Doyle and Creed simply must take action to address this issue”, concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.