The forest and the trees

 

Sir, – Richard Romer, in his letter of response (March 20th) to Susan McKay’s article “‘This is load-of-crap forestry, miles upon miles of it. Everything is dead in there’” (Weekend, March 16th), makes important points that I fully support.

As a professional forester with over 20 years of experience and with responsibility for managing Coillte’s forests in Leitrim, I can say that growing broadleaves like oak commercially in Leitrim is virtually impossible. Oak will certainly grow but its form and growth rates are very poor.

Mr Romer points out that Sitka spruce grows extremely well here. I would go further and say that it’s the best place in Europe to grow such a valuable, export-orientated crop. That’s an incredible natural competitive advantage for Leitrim. It is forecasted that the forest industry will create an additional 6,000 rural jobs in the next ten years. Now is the time for Leitrim to seize the day and make those jobs its own! – Yours, etc,

PAUL JORDAN,

Dromahair,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – Alongside my family farm in Leitrim, I operate a small biomass processing business. We currently process enough biomass each week to displace the equivalent of up to 150,000 litres of fossil-fuel oil. This biomass is from sustainable, carbon-neutral and locally grown forestry. It is imperative that the indigenous biomass industry, which is heavily reliant on forestry and indeed Sitka spruce, grows and develops in Ireland to lessen the impact of our shortfall on our committed renewable energy targets. Biomass is only ever derived from a small fraction of the forest yield, with the vast majority of material destined for sawmilling and staying as locked in carbon. So overall in the sustainable forest model employed in Ireland, there is huge net carbon sequestration achieved.

We are part of an important value chain within Leitrim: Timber grown in Leitrim by Leitrim farmers, planted and managed by Leitrim foresters, harvested by Leitrim harvesting contractors, transported by Leitrim haulage contractors, processed by Leitrim processing companies, and used by end-users in Leitrim often to produce products for a national and international market. It is a local and rural-based value chain that supports the rural economy in Leitrim.

This industry delivers significantly more positives than negatives for Leitrim. – Yours, etc,

KENNY McCAULEY,

McCauley Wood Fuels Ltd,

Mohill, Co Leitrim.