IFA farm forestry chair Vincent Nally has said that the IFA would challenge any move by the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue to claim ownership of the carbon sequestered in privately-owned forests.

Nally commented: “There is no reference in the terms and conditions of the afforestation scheme that gives the State the right to claim ownership of the carbon sequestered in our forests.

“The rationale used by the Minister is that the State paid the forest premiums, so it now owns the carbon. This just doesn’t stack up. Using this logic, next he will be trying to claim ownership of the timber growing in our forests."

Legal advice

Nally added that the IFA has sought legal advice on the ownership of the carbon rights and will challenge any attempt by the Government to interfere with farmers' rights to sell carbon removals and reductions from their forest to a voluntary carbon market.

He said that forest premium is paid to compensate farmers for the income foregone while the trees are growing, and this does not give the State the right to claim ownership of the carbon sequestered.

The IFA chair said that while there are no domestic carbon standards to enable voluntary carbon markets to function at the moment, there is significant interest among farmers in the establishment of such a market.

Nally concluded by saying the Minister needs to clarify his comments and reassure farmers that they do in fact own the carbon in their forests.