Press Release: Environmental groups call for native woodland scheme to be expanded to balance farm emissions

The Environmental Pillar welcome calls for the use of forestry on farms to balance carbon emissions from agriculture, in an effort to increase sustainability and protect livelihoods.
The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 28 national environment NGOs, wish to echo the calls by former Concern CEO Tom Arnold for the use of forestry on farms to mitigate the emissions from increasing cattle numbers.
Speaking at the ICOS Sustainability Conference Mr Arnold, said: “There may have to be a trade-off between increasing the size of the national herd with the forestry sector to allow Ireland become more sustainable .”
He added: “Obviously trees consume carbon and cows emit it, at the moment balance between the two is off kilter. […]We are not going to be able to cod ourselves on this ”
Environmental Pillar spokesperson and convenor of the Tree Cover Working Group Andrew St Ledger said:
“In a world committed to reducing climate pollution, Irish farmers cannot continue to seek exemptions for a ‘better than average’ farming model. We must pursue carbon neutrality in food production or it will be farming families who will bear the brunt of change in the medium to long term.
“Embracing native woodland solutions on farms will not take away from the traditional Irish farming model, in fact it will enhance it.
“We wish to see a task force set up by Minister Simon Coveney to integrate native trees onto farms, using existing financial incentives such as the Native Woodland Scheme, so that it does not add any costs on to the farmer.
“The planting can be targeted along rivers and streams to catch the nutrient run off, solving another big problem regarding farm sustainability. This will also assist our compliance with the Water Framework, Habitats, and Wild Birds Directives, as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity to which Ireland is a signatory. This will also help Ireland meet its EU Treecover targets currently running well below what is needed to meet promised carbon storage projections. Ireland also has the lowest forestry cover in the EU at approx 11 %.”
Mr St Ledger added: “Other multiple benefits that can accrue will help biodiversity, water filtering, soil erosion prevention, increased habitats, all of these known benefits from native trees, to create a genuine win win situation for all stakeholders. The EP Treecover policy on agroforestry lists these benefits with proposed measures for implementing immediately “.
Mr Arnold’s comments on the use of forestry are reported here.
To find out more about sustainable forestry models please see the Environmental Pillar tree cover policy.
In this same week we have also been reminded of the economic benefits from our rich native tree resource by the Ear to the Ground article on the dairy farmer who converted to sustainably managing and growing native elder trees and making elder flower and elderberry cordial, serving local, national and international markets with great success.
The Richmount Cordials story Just one more good reason to reconsider introducing native trees on to the farm.