Hen Harrier's protection status is hitting forestry opportunities
THE protection of the hen harrier is one of the biggest impediments to the expansion of forestry on marginal agricultural land in Limerick and north Kerry.
A substantial amount of land in this region is designated as Special Protection Areas for the bird of prey, meaning forestry planting within these areas does not qualify for establishment grant aid for forestry.
The resulting loss of income and employment opportunities is all the more frustrating for farmers and landowners as our marginal agricultural land and climate is ideal for Sitka spruce production.
We have the fastest growth rates and highest timber quality of any country in Europe. We also have a labour force ready and able with the experience and knowledge to carry out all forest operations.
The benefit of each acre planted to the local economy is estimated at €1,000/ac and this figure includes the cost of mounding, fencing, plants, planting and crop maintenance.
Forestry also provides the basis for a viable local industry into the future. There is no reason why a timber processing sawmill – manufacturing products for the construction industry or for export – could not be built in our region using timber grown in our own local forests.
Jobs would be created during the construction phase and sustainable jobs during the manufacturing process. Spin-off opportunities could include:
* Pallet production;