Spread of Bark Beetle Must be Prevented to Avoid Repeat of Mistakes with Ash Dieback

An IFA delegation led by the President Francie Gorman will appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine this evening on the ‘threat posed by Spruce Bark Beetles to the health of Irish forests,’ Francie Gorman said we must avoid the mistakes made with Ash Dieback when facing up to the growing threat of the Spruce Bark Beetles.

Read IFA’s Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the ‘threat posed by Spruce Bark Beetles to the health of Irish forests’ Here.

“A spruce bark beetle outbreak would cause extensive economic loss to the forest industry, but it would be farmers that would bear the brunt of the economic consequences, which include a reduction in the commercial value of the infested trees, increased management costs as well as replanting costs.”

“While measures are currently in place to prevent an outbreak, the effectiveness of these measures must be scrutinised and it must be a priority to avoid another devastating blow to the forestry sector,” the IFA President said.

“We must not put the forestry industry and our forests at risk for short-term gains. The experience from Europe is that overlooking just one spruce bark beetle can lead to widespread infestation,” Francie Gorman said.

IFA National Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming said there is lack of trust amongst farmers as a result of the negative experience with Ash Dieback. Farmers’ confidence in the State to firstly prevent such outbreaks and then have adequate contingency plans in place is not there.

“Farmers do not trust that adequate biosecurity measures are in place to prevent the introduction of the spruce bark beetle to Ireland, or that the current inspection regime is sufficient and consider the importation of timber from the pest free areas to be a major threat to the health of their spruce forests,” Jason Fleming said.

IFA is calling for a temporary suspension of the importation of timber from Scotland until a full review of the biosecurity measures for the spruce bark beetle is undertaken. IFA want the Government to be more proactive and to take every precaution to ensure that Ireland remains spruce bark beetle free.

IFA President Francie Gorman as highlighted farmers’ ongoing disappointment with the pace with which the Department is dealing with ash dieback.

“Farmers were relieved following the publication of the report, that for the first time in 12 years, the impact on them and their farm families as well as the financial losses were properly recognised.”

“Now they are concerned that it was just another false dawn, and that the recommendations will come to nothing,” Francie Gorman said.

“We need the Government to publish an implementation plan as a matter of urgency and introduce a new ash dieback scheme, a scheme that properly supports and compensates farmers with ash dieback, as per the recommendations,” he concluded.

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