An Taisce is deeply concerned the that many aspects of the proposed programme fall short of the overarching objectives to achieve a sustainable and environmentally friendly forestry sector. Indeed many aspects of the programme are just a continuation of Ireland’s current unsustainable forestry model whose practices over the preceding decades have negatively impacted on biodiversity, landscape and water quality. Commercial forestry plantations have a number of negative impacts on the environment. They are high consumers of water, increase acidification, drive biodiversity loss through habitat loss and in general sustain low levels of biodiversity compared to native ecosystems and traditional land use methods. In order to claim that the forestry sector is sustainable, Ireland needs to move away from the failed model of monoculture plantations of non-native species. Unsustainable fisheries did not benefit the marine environment or the traditional coastal communities that relied on the ocean’s bounty. Likewise DAFM’s unsustainable intensification of agriculture under FH2020 and Forestry under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 will in the long term benefit neither the Irish people nor the environment that supports us. The Forestry Programme 2014-2020 must provide a transition to a low-carbon society and economy and to mitigate the significant risks associated with climate change. The Forestry Programme 2014-2020 must be methodical, evidence-based in approach and demonstrate rational ‘joined up’ assessment for Ireland’s future. Ireland can no longer afford to continue the pursuit of the failed, short-sighted policy approaches of the past and must ensure that our collective future will build resilience. The success or otherwise of the forthcoming Forestry Programme 2014-2020 can only be judged against verifiable and implementable criteria which are subject to ongoing monitoring.

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