Farmers in Roscommon and Leitrim have expressed conflicting views to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar’s call for more forest coverage in Ireland. The Taoiseach has called for 400 million trees to be planted over the next 20 years, in order to reach Ireland’s climate obligations.
Jim McCaffery from Cloone, Co Leitrim told Morning Ireland that anywhere you see forestry, the farmer is gone. “You can’t live in the middle of this forest, that’s what people don’t understand, it’s a dead zone. These things grow to 60 – 70ft tall and completely envelop the area, they’re an absolute eyesore.”
The concerned farmer said that the forested areas are becoming isolated. “I know one farmer that lives on his farm that has his land planted and there are hundreds of acres planted in the parish of Cloone,” McCaffery said.
Paddy Rattigan from Rooskey, Co Roscommon, got out of suckler farming and planted trees on 120 acres of his 140 acre farm.
“The weather was changing and the summers were getting wetter and the ground conditions were deteriorating, that was a big part of it. Forestry was very attractive financially and in other ways,” he said. He also feels that his life is easier and that he is making more profit from his forest than he did from livestock.
Edwina Guckian in Cloone, Co Roscommon, believes that it is important to plant “the right trees in the right places, in the right way".
She said that the current policy is only working for the people making money from the forests and does not consider the people of Leitrim. The young mother said that she would like a good life for her baby, but industrial plantations might not be the solution.
Thoughts amongst the farmers of these two counties are divided between concerns of isolation and a decline of a traditional way of life, while others see forestry as a progressive move towards sustainability.
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