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05 Dec 2021

Crunch meeting to take place tonight to address Longford's forestry woes

Forestry

A crunch meeting surrounding problems linked to the region's beleagured forestry industry is to take place in Longford tonight.

A crunch meeting surrounding problems linked to the region's beleagured forestry industry is to take place in Longford tonight.

Longford IFA representatives are hosting an open forum tonight (Monday November 22) at Longford Rugby Club over a number of issues facing the sector.

Among them include the topics of planting, thinning, felling and licence applications.

The latter has been an endless thorn in the side of industry figureheads due to a backlog of licence applications within the Department of Agriculture.

The delays for various tyoes of forestry work such as planting and felling has led to losses of almost €1m in revenue each month, it has been claimed.

The backlog - currently at about 5,000 licences – had also led to an estimated €70m per annum in lost revenue for Irish sawmills and a 700,000 tonne shortfall of Irish wood over the past two years.

Earlier this month, foresters called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to intervene in a crisis that has frozen the industry for two years and is threatening 12,000 jobs.

Representatives of more than 100 forestry businesses protested outside Dáil Éireann two weeks ago to highlight Government licensing delays that are preventing them from harvesting or planting trees.

Some businesses have been waiting two years for permits to plant or fell trees, sparking calls for direct government intervention.

There are also growing fears delays and bureaucracy around forestry are discouraging farmers from planting trees.

The delays have left actual planting over the last five years trailing government targets by a total of 15,000 hectares.

Speakers at tonight's meeting are Michael Lennon, Longford IFA forestry chairman, Vincent Nally, national IFA forestry chairman and Liam Kelly, Teagasc forestry specialist.

The gathering is especially geared towards forestry owners or anyone thinking of planting trees.

The meeting will be held in accordance with Covid-19 regulations .

As such, anyone interested in attending is asked to adhere to mask wearing and to bring their vaccination certificates with them.

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