An EU expert will be the guest speaker at a Leitrim meeting to discuss the controversial issue of forestry this week.
The event entitled “Fighting the Land Grab!” will take place in the Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday, March 21 at 7.30pm.
Among the guest speakers will be Kelsey Perlman of Fern, an EU-level organisation dedicated to protecting forests as well as the rights of communities living close to them. Fern is the body responsible for a report published last month entitled 'EU Forests in Danger' which highlighted management, biodiversity and community rights issues across 11 EU Member States and specifically highlighted the forest policy employed in County Leitrim as an example of worst practise.
The event is organised by Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, and will include contributions from his party colleague Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny who will outline, what he claims are the flaws of Irish government forestry policy and present his alternatives.
Matt Carthy, contends the government’s forestry policies fail to benefit the environment, enhance the local economy or have a positive impact on communities.
“Rather than helping the environment, forests in Leitrim have become ecological dead zones. Peatland and animal nesting grounds have been transformed into fast-growing Sitka plantations subjected to clear-felling.
“There is minimal benefit to the local economy. Farmers are being priced out of available land by foreign corporations and vulture funds availing of government and EU grants, tax breaks and low-cost loans. It’s a land grab - pure and simple!
“All the while it is the local community that suffers as they watch their county change beyond recognition.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Fern is an organisation that supports the development of forests but they cite Irish government policy in general and its outworking in Leitrim in particular as an example of worst practise. Kelsey Perlman will present an alternative approach, one that actually works and one that doesn’t over burden one county or region with the full obligations of the state. I urge everyone with an interest in rural and regional development to come along and participate in the discussion.”