Felling of Forestry in Protected Area halted following objections from Irish NGO

Published by Dave Brooks on

31st May, 2016

Image: Friends of the Irish Environment

Forestry felling at the Castleforbes Estate, County Longford, has been halted following complaints by the environmental NGO Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE).

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) had, until recently, been cutting down trees on the estate, with considerable harm to nesting birds, despite the protections to these habitats during the breeding season between the 1st of March and the 31st of August.

The decision to stop the felling follows FIE’s complaints to the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, T.D., and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D. A recent letter from the Department of Agriculture to FIE, dated the 18th of May, has confirmed that the NPWS and the Forest Service have agreed that felling will be suspended in the area until September.

Documents released to FIE under legal regulations called Access to Information on the Environment, show that the original 2015 licence was for thinning only for ‘firewood’ with a condition prohibiting the felling of oaks. However, a Report drafted by the NPWS in response a Parliamentary Question by James Bannon, T.D. on 2 December 2015 revealed that ‘most beech’, ‘some ash’, and ‘some oaks’ were in fact removed.

Local NPWS staff had requested permission to stop the felling, but it was denied by the regional NPWS manager, who stated: ‘NPWS cannot stop such works and that is in the remit of the Forest Service.’

Prior to the felling, a full ecological survey of the site, which is a condition of such felling licences, was not carried out due to ‘lack of resources’. However, the documents released to FIE show that the NPWS had confirmed many breeding birds and mammals in the area, including Buzzards, Pine Martens, Red Squirrels and evidence of the presence of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

FIE claim that they will be seeking an investigation into the damage.

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Dave Brooks

Dave works as Communication Assistant with the Environmental Pillar. His background is in psychology and he has a masters in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey.