Combining forestry with other land uses is well worth exploring
Agro-Forestry and Forestry for Fibre initiatives are the way forward for landowners
There has been some lively discussion since the launch of the Draft Forestry Programme 2014-2020. Surprisingly, many of the comments have been negative and because of this and having welcomed the programme initially, I felt I should study it in further detail.
In an ideal world we would of course all wish for greater funding for afforestation, but despite the recent improvements in our economy, we still have vast national debts to repay and given these circumstances, I honestly believe that this programme is both innovative and practical.
It is, of course, far easier to criticise than to praise.
Hard hitting, aggressive articles sell newspapers but those of us who have the privilege of having our opinions appear in print also have a responsibility to try to give a balanced and honest viewpoint when writing.
Forestry has come of age in Ireland. The huge interest now being shown in what is in most cases an 'add on' farm enterprise is proof that landowners are beginning to understand the multiple benefits that trees can deliver.
The negative perception of forestry that was common in the 1980s and '90s has given way to an awareness that in most cases, and especially where marginal land is involved, forestry pays and pays handsomely. Not only does it provide additional income, but it also places a far lighter demand on the landowners time and labour than is the case with conventional farming.
What I especially liked about the new programme was the fact that its authors have opened their minds to the many alternatives and options that exist within the broad description of forestry.
They appear to have listened to people who know about these alternatives and not just to those who formerly held sway and could see nothing beyond blanket planting of Sitka spruce.