Report blasts forestry cutbacks

A REDUCTION in forestry funding by the Government was described as unjustifiable in a report published yesterday.

The independent report by Peter Bacon and Associates, Economic Consultants, was commissioned by the Irish Forest Industry Chain (IFIC), the IFA and the Forestry Self Assessment Companies.

It says it makes economic and environmental sense for the Government to stick to its 1996 commitment to fund the development of 20,000 hectares of new forests annually.

But the report says it is highly regrettable that the Government reduced funding in 2003 by 27% in comparison to 2002 figures.

“This is far in excess of reductions in many unproductive sectors and it cannot be justified,” it said.

The report states for every euro invested in forestry the economy will earn1.59, comparing very favourably with other investments. Only 12,000 hectares of forests will be planted this year due to the lack of Government funding.

IFIC chairman George McCarthy said it is clear the Government should now

allocate funds to maintain the programme of planting 20,000 hectares per annumIFA Farm Forestry chairman Pat Lehanesaid the report should open the Government’s eyes to forestry potential in rural development and climate change.

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