Last week, the IPCC report on climate change was released. It acquired much media coverage, with agriculture as one of the immediate targets for discussion, which included varying statistics on methane emissions and the need to reduce nitrogen fertilised grass.

In one of these interviews there was an impassioned plea by IFA for State support to effect change in farming practice.

This included greater support for forestry and reference was made to Government inaction, including the forestry licence debacle.

The time has come, once more, for strong representation pointing out the official confusion and misdirection with regard to ecology regulations which inhibit a strong carbon policy and the need to vigorously remove barriers to farmer forestry.

This includes a questionable multiple licence scheme which is detrimental to every forest operation.

After all, a farmer doesn’t require a licence to change from beef to barley.

These barriers are also putting the entire forest industry and its employees at risk as well as damaging another element of carbon storage, the use of and replacement of less eco-friendly products, by wood.

The simple argument to support change is that while converting nitrogenous grassland to tree growing clearly reduces emissions, it also adds carbon storage into the system; the more land planted, be it enclosed or unenclosed, the more carbon stored. Forestry is our only natural resource without a development/promotion board to promote this message.

The time has come to establish one.