THE Forestry Bill before the Dáil will clear an ‘intense’ forestry applications backlog and allowfor the planting and reintroduction of vitally-needed native woodland, Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan has claimed.
There are about 500 forestry applications currently in the appeals stage, creating a backlog that could potentially span years. One area of frustration is that a large number of appeals seem to be submitted by one or two individuals.
‘That’s an intense figure to be dealing with and it’ll take years to clear at this rate,’ Deputy O’Sullivan said. ‘Right now farmers throughout Ireland are being forced to sit on mature woodland that’s ready to be felled.
‘That’s jobs being put on hold, that’s environmental management and protection being put on hold, and that’s fuel for the winter being put on hold and we can’t have it. I have no problem defending this bill.’
If the Bill becomes law, it will facilitate housing construction with native wood. At the moment, we are shipping in large amounts of timber from abroad, which is completely unsustainable and leaves a far greater carbon footprint, Deputy O’Sullivan said.
It will also see the recruitment of at least 14 extra ecologists, which means proper ecology reports can be done on land where trees are to be planted.
Deputy O’Sullivan said, if the backlog is cleared, it will allow landowners to plant more native species and allow them to flourish. ‘We’re currently not planting enough trees to meet our climate commitments, and we’re not felling enough trees to supply the timber sector,’ he added.
‘Anyone who knows me knows how highly I value our environment and its biodiversity. This bill introduces much-needed forestry policy to Ireland and will protect our bolster our native woodlands.’
A major issue with current forestry laws is the enormous backlog of appeals to planned felling. Forestry protection, management and harvesting employs about 12,000 people whose jobs are being threatened by the backlog in the current licensing and appeals system.
Deputy O’Sullivan said the Bill before the Dáil will help clear that backlog by streamlining the process to allow for an increase in the number of people on the Forestry Appeals Committee, and allow them to review many appeals at one time.