Jo O’Hara has been appointed to advise Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett on implementation of the MacKinnon report on Irish forestry.
The report was commissioned by the Department to review the processes and procedures for the licensing of afforestation and felling in Ireland.
O’Hara was a British forestry commissioner, chief forester for Scotland and chief executive of Scottish Forestry. She is currently working as a private consultant in the UK.
The terms of reference for Jo O’Hara’s work are:
Minister Hackett said: “The MacKinnon report was commissioned to review our processes and procedures and ensure that collectively we are fit for purpose to deliver the ambitious targets for the forestry sector in Ireland.
“Its implementation is set out as a key forestry action in the programme for government, and I am delighted to have Jo O’Hara on board to advise on this process. I met with Jo recently and was impressed with her enthusiasm for forestry and woodland creation.
“She understands the wide range of concerns here in Ireland in relation to forestry. Jo brings a wealth of experience from her time in Scotland, not least in leading the implementing of the Scottish MacKinnon report,” Minister Hackett said.
The Minister has set O’Hara a target of reporting back by the end of February next year, with her advice on actions for the successful delivery of the ‘ways forward’ identified in MacKinnon.
“Forestry has enormous potential to deliver for the climate, biodiversity and the rural economy and the implementation of this review will help to ensure that the licensing system can deliver on that future policy ambition, as well as assisting with the resolution of current issues.
"It must also, of course, maintain the integrity of the current licensing system and ensure continued compliance with all of our environmental obligations.”
She called on all stakeholders to engage with O’Hara on her work.
O’Hara said sustainable forestry has an important role in realising the huge potential of Ireland’s land to support a productive, low-carbon and nature-rich economy.
“I am glad to be able to share my experience in developing supportive systems and processes to achieve that.
"I look forward to engaging with the stakeholders in Ireland to meet the Minister’s ambitious target of advising on an implementation plan by end-February,” she said.