The Irish Farmers’ Association has appealed for a “reasonable solution” for landowners and farmers who have lost hundreds of millions of euro worth of trees because of ash dieback.
The consequences of not doing so, would be an “absolute disaster”, Simon White of the IFA’s forestry committee told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland. Minister of State Pippa Hackett was expected to bring an ash dieback review to Cabinet today, in advance of its publication, with an implementation plan to follow.
The ash tree, a native species, is under grave threat of elimination due to a fungal parasite known as ash dieback, first identified in Ireland in 2012 among a consignment of ash trees imported from Europe. It has since been discovered in every county in Ireland and has the potential to kill up to 90 per cent of existing ash trees, according to research from the State agriculture development authority.
For landowners and farmers who were encouraged to plant woodlands, the disease is nothing short of a disaster with costs estimated in the region of between €800 million and €1 billion according to Mr White. The figure is made up of lost income with costs of up to €7,000 per hectare to remove diseased trees.
A review committee visited many of the landowners involved, Mr White said. “We’re hoping that the review committee has listened,” he added. “They gave the impression that they were listening and they engaged with us while they came and saw the woods. They saw the devastation. They listened to what people are saying and the individual cases, a lot of elderly people who had planned on this for their pensions and their livelihood, who were passing on dead land on to the next generation.
“And so they seemed to listen. So we’re hoping that they will have listened to the actual solutions that we put forward.”
Mr White pointed out that when dairy farmers lose animals they are compensated. “I think the people growing the trees deserve to be counted, they should be compensated. This has been a massive, long, ongoing injustice.”