Forestry cash cuts will be 'devastating' -- ITGA
A CUT of €20m to the forestry spend will decimate the sector and devastate employment, industry sources have claimed.
IFA forestry chairman Pat Hennessy said the cuts outlined in the Capital Investment Priorities 2011-2016 would reduce plantings to just 2,000ha per annum.
"This is in total contradiction to the Renewed Programme for Government that committed to an afforestation programme of 10,000 hectares per annum," said Mr Hennessy. "An afforestation programme of that scale is not sustainable. The knock-on effects would be devastating for employment, the sustainable supply of timber to the processing and wood energy sectors, and our climate change commitments."
Technical director of the Irish Timber Growers' Association (ITGA), Donal Whelan described the changes as "catastrophic", coming at a critical time for the industry. "It's very scary what's happening and it will have a knock-on effect that will take years to remedy," he said.
"Forestry nurseries have been gearing up for the agreed targets of 10,000ha per annum and it takes four years for a seed to be ready for planting. If ever the planting programme increases again they're unlikely to put seed in the ground and the expertise will leave the sector and this is not something that can be changed in a year."
Mr Whelan added that growers would be unable to meet the demand of an industry that's "already screaming for more timber". He said the ITGA would be requested that the funding agreed will be put in place.