A moratorium on the granting of all commercial forestry applications in the region has been sought until the findings of an independent study on the impacts of afforestation in neighbouring Co. Leitrim is concluded.
Fianna Fáil Councillor John Paul Feeley has also sought that similar concerns among farmers and landowners in Co Cavan are also taken into account in any report arising, and made the point at the recent monthly meeting of elected members.
The report is to be conducted by Dr Aine Ni Dhubhain of the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.
Cllr Feeley’s appeal follows on from a protest at Leinster House organised by the Save Leitrim Campaign to highlight the negative impact of alleged unregulated afforestation in the North-West.
While the terms of reference on the impending study, sanctioned by Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, have not yet been finalised, Cllr Feeley lamented the fact that its focus would be solely focused on Co Leitrim.
“The impact of afforestation affects this county and others as well,” he told the meeting. “It’s a massive issue in these parts.”
He added that there was major damage being caused to rural roads by logging trucks, with little or no compensatory payment to the council, which also lost out in terms of payment of development levies.
He therefore called on Cavan County Council to ready itself to make a submission to those overseeing the independent report regardless.
“Do we want our counties covered in trees or do we want vibrant communities?,” Cllr Feeley asked, mentioning also concerns over rural isolation, the affect on land prices, pollution, and acidification caused by Sitka planting.
There was, he added, 20% of available farm land in Co Leitrim currently planted, and 14% in Co Cavan.
His motion was supported by Fine Gael’s Peter McVitty, who said before the high levels of afforestation in the county the local rivers had been “filled with trout”.
“Forestry is choking the rivers,” said Cllr McVitty, who was joined by Sean Smith (FF) in opposing “blanket afforestation”.