Deputy Martin Browne says woodland owners have been failed by poor policy which involved the importation of ash trees from countries where the disease was present.
The potential wipe-out of 95% of our indigenous ash trees through the spread of Ash Dieback should never have happened and is an indictment of a failed forestry strategy, according to Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne.
The most recent meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine focused on forestry and was attended by the Limerick Tipperary Woodland Owners and the IFA.
“We heard of the huge challenges being faced by our woodland and forestry owners as they deal with the spread of Ash Dieback. We were told that the disease threatens to wipe out the majority of Ireland’s ash trees, yet two schemes designed to help farmers manage infected plantations have obviously not been fit for purpose. Instead the future of many businesses is far from certain because of bad forestry policy,” he said.
Deputy Browne said that they were failed by poor policy which involved the importation of ash trees from countries where the disease was present.
“This happened even though ash - which has intrinsic value to Ireland’s sport and heritage – is indigenous to this country, and its importation was never needed,” he said.
Deputy Browne described this as a wholly short-sighted and misguided strategy on the part of the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture.
“We heard how the old Ash Dieback scheme was not fit for purpose, and how the new delayed RUS scheme also fails to provide adequate assistance, is unavailable to many who need it, and fails to address this challenge in any way,” he said.
“The lack of consultation with those working within the sector obviously contributed to the failure of these schemes,” said Deputy Browne
“The current supports need to be revised with proper consultation with the sector,” he said.