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Death Of Brids Decried After Tree Felling . Dept of Agriculture accused of Double Standards

category national | environment | press release author Saturday May 14, 2016 13:31author by Tony Lowes - Friends of the Irish Environmentauthor phone 353 (0)87 2176316 Report this post to the editors

Friends of the Irish Environment - Press Release 12th May 2016

The environmental group friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] have published on their website photographs of young birds killed in their nests by tree felling during this bird’s breeding season at a County Longford estate.

An investigation into felling at Castleforbes Estate County Longford by the Forest Service after a complaint from FIE in early April confirmed reports of the great spotted woodpecker drumming in the woods scheduled for felling but officials refused to halt the work because no nests were found. Other bird recorded in the Castleforbes Estate include the owl and the kestrel, harrier, and the cuckoo[TL1] . The badger, fox, pine martin, hedgehog, stoat and red squirrel are also present, the latter returning and flourishing only in the last 10 years.

PRESS RELEASE

The environmental group friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] have published on their website photographs of young birds killed in their nests by tree felling during this bird’s breeding season at a County Longford estate.

An investigation into felling at Castleforbes Estate County Longford by the Forest Service after a complaint from FIE in early April confirmed reports of the great spotted woodpecker drumming in the woods scheduled for felling but officials refused to halt the work because no nests were found. Other bird recorded in the Castleforbes Estate include the owl and the kestrel, harrier, and the cuckoo[TL1] . The badger, fox, pine martin, hedgehog, stoat and red squirrel are also present, the latter returning and flourishing only in the last 10 years.

The group has written to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, TD, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Rural Affairs, and the Gaelteacta, Heather Humphries, TD to point out that the Estate is part of the Lough Forbes Special Area of Conservation.

‘This site consists of a number of different habitats, and is centred around Lough Forbes, a lake formed by a broadening of the River Shannon. As well as the lake itself, there is also a series of raised bogs, callow grasslands and an alluvial woodland which forms part of the Estate. A mature forest was recorded at this location in the 17th century. It is protected not only under EU law, but also in the County Longford Development Plan.’

The trees selected for felling, according to the Forest Service, include between 60-80 years old oak, ‘with the occasional older tree’. While the Forest Service restricted felling during the summer season in last year’s thinning licence, no such restrictions were placed on the two 2016 far more destructive felling licences.

DEPARTMENT ACCUSED OF DOUBLE STANDARDS

FIE accused the Department of using ‘double standards’, highlighting the recent judgement by Judge Seamus Hughes of the Longford District Court who fined two men €250 for destroying vegetation during the closed period imposed to protect birds and other wildlife between March 1 and August 31.

'Farmers are rightly required to go to considerable lengths to ensure they do not cut hedgerows during the closed period, even to incurring additional cost for machinery equipped to deal with wet land, while the Department's own Forest Service issued two felling licenses at the historic Castleforbes Estate in County Longford without any restrictions for nature conservation.’

‘These double standards are bound to cause resentment among farmers who are being fined in the Courts for felling hedgerows while they see heritage woodlands being cut at the peak of the nesting season. The excuse for allowing the felling at this time of year is that the wet woodlands are too difficult to fell during the winter season – but farmers facing fines for loss of land available for foraging are being actively prosecuted in the Courts for cutting hedgerow during the closed period.’

BIODIVERSITY TARGETS

In letters to Ministers, the group has urged them to examine the Ireland’s commitment to the 2020 headline target of the EU biodiversity strategy – ‘Halting the loss of biodiversity’.

FIE points out that EU rural development policy specifically requires Ireland ‘to bring about a measurable improvement in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by forestry.’ ‘The decision by the Forest service to allow this felling during the restricted season undermines Ireland’s commitment to this policy’, the group wrote.

‘It is particularly ironic that the death of these nesting birds took place just as the nation celebrated the ‘dawn chorus’, an event that showcases the great diversity of Ireland’s birdlife’, the FIE statement concluded sadly.

Contact: Tony Lowes 353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771

Downloadable High Res Photos
https://goo.gl/photos/X9UrVH5QEDgg5xSr9

Letters
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Agriculture
friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/ministercastleforbes_07.05.16_MC.pdf

Heritage
http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/mini...6.pdf

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