An investigation carried out by the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has concluded that 9 oak trees, all between 60 and 80 years old have been felled illegally.
The illegal felling occurred at the Lady Georgina Forbes’ Castleforbes Estate on the Shannon River in Co. Longford in 2015 despite the requested prohibition of the felling of these trees by the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Then TD for Longford and Westmeath, Deputy James Bannon, was first to raise this issue, requesting information on the felling and the legality of the felling in late 2015.
Minister Heather Humphreys obtained a report from the National Parks and Wildlife Service detailing the felling and failure to replant the selected area despite the requests of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Unfortunately this report never reached to Deputy Bannon or the Forest Service. Upon further questioning, Minister Humphreys declared:
“it is a matter for the Forest Service to determine if there were any breaches of licence conditions and, if so, whether any action needs to be taken in relation to such breaches under the provisions of the Forestry Acts.”
Due to current legislation, no prosecution can now be made as prosecution is required within a year of the offence. This fact has drawn a number of complaints from various bodies.
Subsequently, Minister Humphreys has confirmed that new procedures have been drafted and implemented within the department. Friends of the Irish Environment, a group that played a pivotal role in initiating an investigation and halting felling, have welcomed these new procedures. They have also questioned why the initial report never reached the Forest Services and requested the implementation of protocol to ensure that this does not reoccur.