Save Leitrim group claim afforestation rate in the county is double the official figure

The Save Leitrim group at a previous protest outside Leinster House
The Save Leitrim group at a previous protest outside Leinster House
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The Save Leitrim Group has disputed a recent Department of Agriculture report that stated that 18.9pc of the county is in forestry, with the group claiming that the figure could be double the official figures

The Forest Statistics Ireland 2019 report published by the Department of Agriculture stated that 18.9pc of Leitrim was under forestry, followed by Wicklow at 17.9pc and Clare at 17.2pc.

Suckler farmer and Save Leitrim member Jim McCaffrey from Cloone, Co Leitrim estimates that up to 40pc of the county is dedicated to forestry plantations.

"Leitrim is a small county. A lot of it is taken up by water. The Shannon runs the length of the county and there are lots of lakes. Questions have to be asked as to how they are calculating this, is it total land area or area in total in the county?

"We think there could be as much as 35-40pc of Leitrim in forestry. There's 50pc of my townland under forestry."

Save Leitrim held a demonstration outside Leitrim County Council's first meeting on Friday to highlight how it feels that the Government's forestry policy is decimating Leitrim.

"The policy seems to be to plant as many trees as possible. My son is farming with me here, we're fifth generation farmers. It's an idyllic way of life but it could be in danger if planting continues the way it has for the last 10 to 15 years."

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture stated that the forest figures come from the National Forest Inventory which is "based on a robust methodology combining aerial imagery and field visits carried out over a two-year period and meets the requirements internationally for such Inventories.

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"It involves a detailed survey of permanent forest sample plots based on a randomised systematic grid sample design. This grid density equated to 17,423 points nationally."

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