Green Party wants every farmer to be paid to plant a hectare of trees each

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Caroline O’Doherty

The Green Party is calling for every farmer in the country to be paid to plant a hectare of natural woods on their land to help restore native tree cover to the country.

The party also want the legal mandate of Coillte, the state forestry company, to be overhauled so that its responsibilities extend beyond commercial forestry to tree conservation and woodland restoration.

A motion calling for these and 17 other measures to be taken to boost native woodland was debated in the Dail on Tuesday night. A vote will be taken later in the week.

Explaining the motion, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said Ireland had one of the lowest rates of forestry cover in Europe and what did exist was largely monoculture, dominated by conifers and in particular sitka spruce.

“Our Dail motion is calling for a historic change in Irish forestry policy. Rather than just focusing on short rotation plantations and lumber production, we want our trees to address the biodiversity as well as the climate crises that we face,” he said.

He said the practice of growing trees for commercial purposes and then chopping them down after 30 years left large parts of the country looking like “Verdun during World War One”.

Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, some 440 million trees are to be planted over the next 20 years but Mr Ryan said numbers alone were not impressive.

“That’s not the metric of success. The metric of success has to be how rich are our natural systems at the end of it, how do we protect our biodiversity?”

Online Editors