DEAR SIR: Everybody agrees that the forestry sector in Ireland is in absolute chaos.
All investigations so far have pointed to the inefficiencies in the Department of Agriculture and its forest service and the poor policy directions of those in charge in the Department as the major contributory factors in this crisis.
One can only feel sorry for the well-intentioned personnel, lower down in the chain of command, who are snowed under with paperwork in a system that is totally unworkable.
These people are forced to operate without a cohesive, integrated IT system.
They are at the interface with the landowners growing trees, who are being prevented, at every turn, from carrying out the necessary tasks to run their business by ill-advised and needless restrictions imposed by their superiors.
It is sickening to hear it described as money saved
They then have to face the growing frustration and anger of the tree growers. It is grossly unfair.
It is soul-destroying for everyone who has been lobbying for the changes needed to fix the problems to read that the Department is handing back millions of euro allocated to forestry that it has failed to invest in forestry. It is sickening to hear it described as money saved.
The Department has serious questions to answer.
As the Department staff head off on their Christmas holidays, having saved the Exchequer all this money, it has utterly failed to invest in the infrastructure needed to support growing trees in this country at a time when everyone knows how vital trees are to achieving a better environmental balance.
They are receiving such mixed messages from the weakest political leadership we have ever had
If those in charge were to operate, as they have been, in the private sector they would not last a week before being replaced.
However, it is not entirely fair to blame them. They are receiving such mixed messages from the weakest political leadership we have ever had in this country since the foundation of the State.
The ministers supposedly in charge of the Department that deal with forestry spend their time and our money avoiding vital decision-making.
It looks as if they are incapable of getting to grips with the problems as they flounder around looking for advice from everyone other than anyone who actually knows anything about growing trees.
I would appeal to the ministers to take charge properly. They need to invest seriously in forestry.
How in heaven’s name do they expect to get the Minister for Finance to allocate the level of funding needed to ensure we have a vibrant tree growing sector if they do not spend what has been already allocated and send it back? First install an efficient IT system.