Doyle queries Government's forestry cuts
Continued investment in forestry is a "no brainer" at a time when the Government is looking for money for limited financial resources, Fine Gael has insisted.
The sector returns €1.59 for every €1 invested, according to the Department of Agriculture's own studies, said FG's agriculture spokesman, Andrew Doyle.
He warned that Government plans to cut forestry targets jeopardised a valuable industry that had a key role to play in the country's economy.
Mr Doyle pointed out that the forestry sector employed more than 12,246 people, was a primary source of supply to the construction industry and other sectors, and had a role to play in greenhouse gas mitigation and biomass and biofuel production.
"However, these benefits are in jeopardy if the Government's proposed capital investment programme cuts the original plan to invest in 10,000ha of planting per year back to 2,000ha because of scarce resources," he warned.
Mr Doyle added that importing wood would be more costly, while putting foresters on the dole would cost millions. "Ireland will have to pay for greenhouse gas emissions instead of being able to offset them against the forestry sector," he said.
"Even the EU Agriculture Commissioner said that forestry could be part of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy."
Meanwhile, the Department's Sean Connick this week launched a Model Timber Sales System aimed at private timber growers.