Forestry is one of the best investments I ever made
The recently launched d 'Land Availability for Afforestation' document is welcome and has appeared following a lot of time and study spent on the issue. It confirms there is too much marginal land lying semi idle at the moment and the owners of such land could greatly benefit from planting it.
But there are many reasons, some of them relatively complex, why they choose not to do so.
All of these reasons are clearly outlined in the document but the principal ones seem to be a fear of premium rates changing as they have done in the past, along with a further erosion of the previously promised tax free status of forestry and the fear of committing land to forestry forever.
Having planted over 20 years ago and despite all of these fears, personally I see forestry as one of the best investments I have ever made.
Were I fortunate enough to own any of the thousands of acres of marginal land I see every day as I drive around Ireland, I would not hesitate to establish woodland in it but then it's easy for me to say this having learnt the hard way how to get the most from my own woods.
When launching the document, Minister Hayes stated: "On lands classified as being 'limited' for agriculture, representing 1.8 million hectares, there is wider scope for afforestation. These lands have a higher proportion of difficult soils, often economically marginal for agriculture, with forestry presenting a viable alternative land use option."
I would have thought that this was stating the bleeding obvious and didn't require a room full of experts to come to that conclusion. On the other hand, I guess it doesn't do any harm to keep stating these facts.
We must continue to make every effort to persuade landowners of the real benefits of the current afforestation scheme.