Dáil Éireann - Volume 53 - 27 June, 1934
In Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Forestry.
Minister for Lands (Mr. Connolly) Minister for Lands (Mr. Connolly)
Minister for Lands (Mr. Connolly): I move:—
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £81,204 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1935, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí i dtaobh Foraoiseachta, maraon le Deontas-i-gCabhair chun Tailimh do Thógaint (9 agus 10 Geo. 5, c. 58, agus Uimh. 34 de 1928).
That a sum not exceeding £81,204 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for Salaries and Expenses in connection with Forestry, including a Grant-in-Aid for Acquisition of Land (9 and 10 Geo. 5, c. 58, and No. 34 of 1928).
The total net Vote proposed for the current financial year is £121,804, which represents an increase over last year of £29,578. Deputies are already aware that a considerable expansion in forestry operation is in contemplation and the increase in the Vote is, it is hoped, but the first step in that direction. During the year which ended on 31st March last 10,617 acres were acquired for forestry purposes. This area added to what has already been acquired in previous years makes a total of 65,173 acres. The total area planted or replanted to date is 38,309 acres, of which 4,175 acres were planted during the past season. Approximately about 9,000 acres in hands are unfit for planting, and 6,000 acres are covered by mature or immature plantations established by previous owners. About 100 acres  are occupied by nurseries, and 900 acres represent lands covered by scrub which has to be cleared for planting, lands let for grazing, etc. Of the lands in respect of which negotiations for acquisition have been completed about 5,000 acres have not yet been taken over from the vendors. As regards the area unfit for planting, experience indicates that, on an average for every 1,200 acres acquired about 1,000 acres of productive land is secured.
The figures quoted will show what a small margin there is to meet the extended programme now in view, and the urgent importance of expediting the acquisition of lands on a greatly increased scale. Even apart from the necessity of speeding up in this respect, acceleration of the rate of acquisition is also necessary in order that a very substantial reserve may be created, so that the work of planting may be co-ordinated with the nursery work. On an average a plant requires three years' nursery treatment before removal to the forest and, therefore, a sufficient reserve should be available to allow for a programme of planting to be prepared three years in advance and for nursery operations to be adjusted to meet the requirements of such a programme. This is the best way to ensure an adequate supply of plants and to prevent waste by having available each season in the Department's own nurseries plants of the ages and varieties necessary for the particular lands to be planted that season.
The expanded programme and the increase in staff that will be necessary in consequence will be reflected in the various sub-heads of the Estimate which I shall now refer to in detail. Sub-head A. Salaries, Wages and Allowances, £8,170. This is an increase of £319 as compared with last year. The increase here may seem very small to meet the requirements of the extended operations of the Department, but the explanation is that the Estimate includes only the extra staff already approved when the Estimate was prepared and does not make any provision for the further additions  which are under consideration and in respect of which it will be necessary to seek sanction by way of a Supplementary Estimate. The proposals now under consideration provide for substantial increase in the inspectorate class, as well as a greatly augmented staff in the forester and foreman grades.
Sub-head B, Travelling Expenses, £1,350. The increase of £350 for travelling expenses and subsistence allowances it is anticipated will be necessary as a result of the increase in the outdoor staff. Sub-head C 1. There is an increase of £15,000 under this sub-head for the acquisition of lands for forestry purposes. The sum of £50,000 now sought, together with the balance of £27,601 brought over from last year will leave £77,601 available for acquisition proceedings this year. The amount voted under this sub-head is by way of grant-in-aid and hence any unexpended money does not revert to the Exchequer but is carried forward either to meet the purchase price of lands in respect of which commitments have already been made or to form, with the additional moneys voted for the purpose in the following year, the fund available for acquisition transactions in that year. The acceleration of the rate of acquisition should practically exhaust the entire sum now being made available. As has already been stated, the area planted last season was 4,175 acres and the Departmental intention this year is to plant at least 6,000 acres. I may mention that that figure is based on the Estimate as it was prepared. I will give additional information about that later. It will probably arise when I am replying on the Vote. This represents a substantial increase but it must be considered nevertheless merely an indication of what will have to be done in the immediate future if the expanded programme is to be realised within a reasonable time.
Sub-head C 2. The sum of £66,725 required under this head is to meet:— (1) The wages of the permanent staff of foresters and foremen consisting of ten Grade I foresters, 20 Grade II foresters and ten foremen, all of whom  have been trained by this Department. The wages of 34 caretakers are included also in this time. Outlying forest properties of limited extent where planting work has been completed or is not necessary are generally placed in the charge of caretakers, who are paid small allowances varying with the importance of the area under their care. The estimated cost of this item is £5,875. (2) Maintenance. This represents the cost of the labour required for preliminary fencing of new areas and for the cleaning and other operations in connection with plantations already established. It includes also £3,600 for the provision of necessary fencing materials and £1,000 for the upkeep of buildings on the forest properties. The cost of maintenance is estimated at £15,850. (3) Cultural Operations. This item represents the cost of the workmen required for nursery work, preparation of ground for planting and the actual planting. The estimated cost is £41,250 for labour, £1,500 for purchase of seeds and plants and £2,250 for cartage, ploughing, purchase of manures etc.
The number of labourers employed varies according to the nature of the seasonal operations, reaching its maximum during the planting season. The maximum was reached in March when 1,300 men were employed. During part of the summer their number is reduced to about 500, but this is increased again during the summer clearing operations to about 600. In addition, out of money made available from the Vote for the Relief of Unemployment and Distress about 250 men were employed during the winter and spring months on operations that could not otherwise have been undertaken.
Included also in this sub-head C 2 is an item of £1,500 for the purchase of seeds and seedlings and transplants which may be wanted. The Department purchased last year 3,240 lbs. of seed which was obtained from the Western States of United States of America (410 lbs.), Holland (500 lbs.), Germany (1,270 lbs.), Austria (200 lbs.), Denmark (20 lbs.), Corsica (50 lbs.), and so on. The bulk of the transplants and seedlings used are now produced  in our own nurseries, and a beginning has been made in extracting and collecting seed at home. During last year a small seed-extracting plant was crected and subjected to a preliminary trial, resulting in about 150 lbs. of coniferous seed being extracted from home-collected cones. In September last, stocks occupying about 135 acres and including 31,000,000 seedlings and approximately 19,000,000 transplants were in the nurseries. These stocks provided 11,000,000 plants for planting. A good stock of oak, ash, elm sycamore, beech, and alder was raised and it is hoped that it will be possible not only to maintain but to increase the acreage of good hardwood in the country.
Sub-head C 3, £1,504. The Department has a sawmill at Dundrum and another, but smaller one, at Emo Forest, Portarlington. This item is to cover the cost of these mills. There is a considerable demand at Dundrum for the manufactured and partly manufactured products of the mill.
Sub-head D, £450. This sub-head is for the purpose of providing a sum to make grants to private persons and local bodies undertaking afforestation. Grants towards the establishment of new plantations are made at the rate of £4 per acre, payable in three instalments as follows:—£2 per acre as soon as the plantation has been laid down and properly fenced; £1 per acre in five years' time, provided the plantation has been properly maintained; £1 per acre after a further five years on a similar condition.
Grants are made only in respect of a minimum area of five acres planted either by one holder or by two or more joint holders. It may perhaps be felt by some that the minimum acreage should be reduced, but this aspect of the matter has already been considered, and the conclusion reached is that the inspection of smaller areas would not be justified by the results achieved. Moreover, facilities already exist under the machinery of the county committees of agriculture for the provision of good plants at a cheap rate, and there is no reason why these facilities should not be availed of, particularly  for the provision of small shelter belts.
It is a pity more persons do not avail themselves of the grants provided under this sub-head, as the fund available has been only partly exhausted each year since the inauguration of the scheme in 1930-31. This brings up a matter to which reference might be made here, that is the applications that are made to the Department to purchase small patches of land completely isolated from any existing forest centre. It will be agreed that the acquisition of such small areas would be impracticable even for the most sympathetic department, but there should be nothing to prevent the owners of these lands making use of the facilities provided by the Department. By doing so they will be helping on in a practical way the work of afforestation. If the comparatively few who now avail of this fund were increased to some thousands every year the results in a few years would be very perceptible and would change the appearance of many districts now bleak and shelterless. It is hoped that those who have been making urgent representations to the Government will keep this aspect of the case before them and explore the possibility of carrying out useful work in this direction.
Sub-head E, Forestry Education, £300. This item is for the training of apprentices so that the Department may not only be in a position to obtain suitable forest foremen, but men whose training has been specially adapted to the requirements of this country. It is proposed to hold an examination for 12 positions as trainees in July next under the auspices of the Civil Service Commission. This item also includes a short course of lectures for foresters and foremen in the Department's service. These courses have been given during the last few years and have been very beneficial to those participating. The good results justify their continuance.
Sub-head F, £10. This sum is intended to cover any expense involved in connection with the provision of expert advice for local bodies and  private owners. Sub-head G, £195. This sub-head is to meet the expense of advertising the letting of shootings, grazings, sales of timber, etc., which is estimated at £50. There is also under this sub-head the cost of telegrams, £10; telephone service, £20, and miscellaneous, £65.
Sub-head H, Appropriations-in-Aid, £6,900. This sum represents receipts from the sale of mature timber, receipts from the sale of the products of the saw-mill at Dundrum, rents from miscellaneous items such as grazings, cottages, turbary and shootings. An increased income is anticipated this year towards this sub-head of £2,450. With the development and extension of the Department's forest properties, the income resulting from the operations in the forests should show a steady increase from year to year.
There is an important matter to which reference should now be made. Under the provisions of the Forestry Act, 1928, it is laid down that before any tree can be felled the prescribed notice must be lodged with the local sergeant of the nearest Civic Guard station, and if after the expiration of 21 days from the lodgment of this notice no prohibition order has been served on the person lodging the notice, he is at liberty to fell the trees mentioned in the notice. This, one would think, is a very simple matter, not inflicting any unreasonable inconvenience on any person, but merely requiring him to attend at a Civic Guard station, ask for the prescribed form, fill it up, and leave it with the Gárdí. In spite of this, illegal felling still continues and, in many cases, the explanation given by the offenders is that they were unaware of the provisions of the Act, notwithstanding that it has been in operation since the 1st April, 1930, and that reports of prosecutions in respect of offences have frequently appeared in the public Press. If these illegal fellings were permitted to continue unchecked the intentions of the Act, namely, the conservation of the timber resources of the country, would be entirely frustrated. It must be clearly understood that offenders will no longer be  allowed to do so with impunity, and it is the intention in future to see that the requirements of the Act are respected. A good number of prosecutions were successfully undertaken during the year, and this policy will be maintained from this onward.
I have confined my analysis to the programme that was in mind when these Estimates were prepared, but as I think most Deputies know, the whole policy of forestry expansion is being examined. Certain decisions on the future programme have yet to be made, but I am hopeful that in the very near future I will be bringing definite proposals before the Dáil and seeking legislative authority for a much wider programme of forestry development than has yet been attempted in the Saorstát.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: When this Estimate was before the House last year I complained that the then Minister for Agriculture, who was in charge of forestry, made a very vague and indefinite statement which conveyed very little information to Deputies. I am very sorry to say that I have got exactly the same complaint to make on this occasion. We have got from the Minister a very vague and a very indefinite statement. For instance, we were told that 6,000 acres will be planted this year, but we were not told in what part of the country, or the class of timber that is going to be put on these 6,000 acres. We were not told what is the ultimate object of planting. I should explain that when you plant timber it is contemplated that ultimately it will have a market value, and that it will be cut down at a certain date. When timber is planted, there is something in mind after a considerable number of years have passed. It is planted with a particular object, that there will be a definite class of timber available. That is the sort of information we should like to get, which we are always asking for and which we can never get in this House.
We are told that 6,000 acres are going to be planted. The Minister did say that some of that would be hard wood. Where the hard wood is going  to be planted or where the mixed plantations are going to be set up, we are not told. The Minister talks about conifers. We should like very much to know what class of conifer is now being planted by the Department. The Minister also says that a very large sum of money has been spent in importing seed from the United States, Holland and various other places. What seed? After all, to say that we have imported tree seed means absolutely nothing and what I think the House would like to know, if we have got £400 of seed from the United States, what class of seed it was. I presume it was silver spruce or something of that kind. We should also like to know what seed was got from Austria and Holland. That is quite simple information to give the House and it is the sort of information that anybody who wishes to understand the Forestry Estimate would like to have.
I should like to know from the Minister if any experiments are being made with the more modern forms of timber or whether the more modern forms, as I would call them, are being solely planted by the Department because I would imagine that it would be extremely unlikely and certainly it would be extremely unwise for the Department to import any larch seed into this country. I would imagine that of all the conifers, larch is the most suited to this country as well as being the most valuable. It grows in every single part of the country. It is in most parts of the country an extremely healthy and a very quick-growing tree. The old larch is the tree which should be most planted by the Department. I gather from what the Minister said that that is simply not the case. I am simply speculating and drawing conclusions from the Minister's statement as I can do nothing else owing to the inadequate amount of information that has been given to us. I am taking it that the Department import larch seed, but there is a great deal of disease amongst larch which has not reached this country yet, or, at any rate, has not reached any of the areas with which I am acquainted.
 There is just one other matter to which I would like to bring the Minister's notice to ascertain if it has been at all considered. In the quick production of timber there is nothing which can at all touch the modern hybrid poplar, which is rather popular at the moment. It is a tree that matures in 19 or 20 years, and the enormous forest tree is dead of old age at 25 or 30 years or thereabouts. I suppose the Minister is probably aware that Bryant and Mays have bought a very large area in Perthshire and have planted that area. What that very large firm is doing as a business experiment is just the type of thing that I would like the Department to consider. I would like to know if the Department are working on similar lines. That experiment of Bryant and Mays in Perthshire has attracted a very considerable amount of attention. As far as I have been able to gather—naturally enough I am not an expert in forestry and I have not got expert information available— from the various articles I have read upon the subject, a great deal of that plantation of Bryant and Mays consists of these modern poplars with their enormously quick production of timber which is available for pulping when the trees are forest trees. I should like to know if that class of plantation is in contemplation by the Department.
There are various other matters which the House would like to know, but when the Minister simply tells us that 6,000 acres are going to be planted somewhere, we have not the remotest idea where these districts are and it is really giving this House no information. It is hardly fair to this House that we are treated as persons who are not worthy of consideration. We are simply told: “We are going to do this and you need not bother your heads about it.” That is not the way in which the House should be treated. I want again to urge, as I have done before, that if a large scheme of planting is to be undertaken, it is not wise, nor do I think it fair, that that planting should be confined, as it has been confined, for all practical purposes to one county. Wicklow is being fully planted but nowhere else that I can  see. Certainly I cannot see any new plantations in Connacht. I would venutre to point out to the Minister that statements which I have heard made here before that timber cannot be successfully grown in the Mayo mountains are absolutely wrong. Along the western seaboard, I have seen very excellent hard wood and some very excellent conifers.
If the Minister is in the slightest doubt about that I would suggest that he should send an expert to see one of the most exposed places on the Mayo coast—Old Head—which lies between Westport and Louisburgh, on the south shore of Clew Bay. He will find the district planted to a very considerable height, probably with hard wood but with some Scotch fir intermixed. The plantations are in an extremely healthy condition. If that could be done by private enterprise, probably 100 years ago, the same thing can be done all over the country to-day, and if there is going to be a large scheme it is essential that those poorer districts in the Mayo mountains, a great deal of which can be of no other use except to grow timber, should be considered. As far as I can gather no attention has so far been given to those districts. Of course I know it is an ordinary thing for Deputies in this House to get up and put forward claims for their constituencies. That is a rather cheap method of getting publicity for the Deputy concerned, but it is not from a desire to get anything in the nature of publicity that I am putting these matters before the Minister. I am putting forward the claim that this part of my constituency is a part of the country which can be profitably planted and it is a part of the country in which nothing has been done so far. If that is true of the mountains of Mayo, it would be equally true of the mountains of Donegal, Connemara and Kerry. These areas seem to be entirely neglected as far as planting is concerned and yet they are areas in which large acreages of timber could be grown at a very small cost indeed. They are acres which were at one time covered with native timber and which could be again successfully planted with both hard wood and conifers.
 There is another matter to which I would like to direct the Minister's notice. Along the western seaboard generally very little timber is left. Most of the timber in these counties was in demesnes but for all practical purposes there are hardly any demesnes now left. When the demesnes were broken up the timber was invariably cut down.
I see, according to the evening papers, where a very handsome place in County Galway, called Pallas, owned by the late Lord Westmeath, is being sold to a timber merchant. That is what is happening. Everywhere the timber is being cut down. In a few years' time, as things are going on, if the ordinary small farmer wants the makings of a cart he will not be able to get a large tree. There will not be a large tree to be had in another 20 years because, as I am sure the Minister knows, a larch tree after 80 or 100 years ceases to be of very much use. You will not be able to get a large tree to make a cart in County Mayo in a very few years' time. The same thing will apply to Scotch fir, and spruce which is used for roofing; you will not be able to get them. You will have to import every single bit of timber used in the particular areas. It may be all right to go in for huge blocks here and there, running into thousands of acres. At the same time, you will find that it will be quite economical to have your 40 or 50 acre plantation in places where there is other timber, because you will get a very good price for the trees when they are matured. Your first clearing, I suppose, will be in 20 years or thereabouts, but ultimately you will get a very good price for that timber, because people will not have the enormous carriage to pay which they will have to pay on imported timber.
For instance, if you have a plantation and there is no other plantation within ten or 20 miles, as happens in certain areas now, the trees there will go very much more to local buyers than they will in areas where there are plantations of 3,000 or 4,000 acres and where they are sold in blocks. It is also a very great convenience to  people to be able to get native timber which they want for various purposes. If the local carpenter wants an ash to make harrows, or a larch to make a cart, or a sycamore or elm for other things, they will not be available and they will have to be brought from one part of Ireland to another where, if the Department set to work, they could be successfully grown. I should like, if I possibly could, to lay the bogey which seems to have obsessed the Department of Forestry, that the West coast of Ireland cannot give timber. It has given timber; it is, to a certain extent, giving timber at present; and it could give plenty of timber in the future if it is planted.
Mr. Moore Mr. Moore
Mr. Moore: I am inclined to agree with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that the Minister's statement could have had rather more substance, could be more comprehensive both with regard to present and prospective operations in the Forestry Department. I would remind the Deputy, however, that that has always been the case with regard to the Forestry Estimate. In fact, it was very much more the case in the time of the former Government than it has been during the time of the present Government. If there was any time when the former Minister for Agriculture was embarrassed or perturbed—if one could imagine such a Deputy being embarrassed or perturbed—it was when he was introducing the Estimate for Forestry. If it were not written on his face it was implied in the first words he spoke, that he knew nothing about forestry and that he thought less about the subject. I think it was a section of his work to which he never paid the least attention. I am not speaking in considerable derogation of him and I am not going to dwell on the point—I am only speaking in reply to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. At all events, the present Minister is showing considerably more interest in that Department than was shown previously.
I should like, however, to have a great deal more information on several points to which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred. For instance, one thing that he emphasised would be  worth a good deal of inquiry on the part of the Minister—that is the tremendous difference between the experience of the ordinary man interested in the growing of trees and the dogmas of the Forestry Department. In many parts of the country people will call your attention to the fact that the Forestry Department is quite sure that trees cannot be grown on bog or moorish ground and they will say, “Come here and I will show you.” As late as last Sunday, I had that experience, and I have had it again and again. I think it would be worth while for the Minister to inquire whether his scientific experts are altogether as reliable as they seem to think they are in what they lay down with regard to the growing of trees on more or less barren land, particularly bog. In that respect, the former director of forestry, Mr. Forbes, was not so convinced as possibly the present staff are. I remember very well interviewing him with regard to a piece of cut-away bog in which I was interested and he promised to have it examined and possibly an experiment carried out with regard to the growing of trees. I know that nothing has been done since in connection with it. In view of the amount of land of that kind in the country, I am sure there should be a good deal of investigation done and perhaps a good deal of experiment. Certainly, it is the belief of many people that land such as that, which is at present absolutely useless, could be utilised for the growing of trees.
One of the principal things for which I rose was to ask the Minister if he could not be a little more generous with regard to the purchase of land for forestry purposes. He is getting offers of hilly land at present and, owing to the bad circumstances of many farmers, the land is being offered at a very low price. I put it to him, is it altogether fair to avail of the circumstances of people and to take such land from them at the price at which it is offered? It does not look well for a Government Department to exploit the bad circumstances of people. While I know that there is no intention  of doing so, that certainly is the result. Unfortunate people, who are in very bad circumstances, and who have control over some hundreds of acres of hill, which is used for sheep grazing and so on, owing to want of cash are inclined to offer it to the Department for forestry purposes. As far as I can learn, although I cannot speak with great certainty on the matter, the Forestry Department is availing of such offers to buy this land at a very low price. I wonder if that is wise. I know there is the other view, that the State should act the business man; that the State should not give more for anything it buys than the people who want to sell are prepared to take. On the other hand, I think that Deputies in every part of the House would not like to see advantage taken of poor people to purchase land which has been in their hands for generations, which has been very valuable for sheep-grazing purposes, at a price that, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many other people who have spoken to me on the matter, is altogether below its value for sheep-grazing purposes. I think the Minister might at least tell us what the attitude of his Department is on the question.
In the same connection, I should like to know whether the Minister proposes to put into effect the compulsory powers that his Department enjoys at present with regard to the acquisition of land which is obviously suitable for tree planting and which is not being used, at least to any considerable extent, for sheep-grazing purposes. As far as I can learn, unless land is offered voluntarily, or unless the owner of the land is prepared to negotiate on voluntary terms, at present the Department leave it alone—they are not prepared to put their compulsory powers into operation. In many places, it seems to me there would be every justification for putting the compulsory powers into operation. The people are getting impatient in certain places where there are hills which, as I have said, are not being used for grazing purposes and are obviously extremely valuable for planting purposes. People are impatient for the Department to  put into effect the compulsory powers it has to acquire this land. Having failed in its offer to buy the land, the Department is naturally faced with a deadlock unless it takes over compulsorily.
As regards shelter belts, the Minister complained that there is not sufficient advantage being taken of the grants offered for the cultivation of such belts in different parts of the country. The reason is very obvious. People have never heard of this offer. It is not advertised or otherwise brought to their notice. I am positive a great many farmers of the progressive type would avail of these grants, but the fact is that if they ever did hear of them they did not hear continuously of them and it does not occur to them to take advantage of the Government's offer. I am sure if those people heard of the grants through the county councils, or through any other body, they would be only too glad to avail of them. I suggest the remedy is largely in the hands of the Minister's officials. They can keep reminding the public, either through local bodies or some other media, that these grants are available and in that way, I believe, they will find plenty of people anxious to take advantage of them.
Another question to which I would like to advert has relation to the sales of timber that is being cut down by the Forestry Department. I would like to know how far these sales are paying for the expense of rearing the trees. I think it was the case two or three years ago that the timber cut on a Government plantation realised a very poor price; in fact, it represented a tremendous loss and it would not repay the expenses incurred by the Government in the production of that timber for more than a period of two or three years. I would like to know whether there is a tendency for the revenue from that source to improve or whether the Minister has any method of improving the revenue. Up to recently, at all events, such timber was in competition with foreign timber being sold at dumped prices. I do not know if that is so at the moment. I do not know if the Department have annually to face the  problem of cutting down a certain number of trees that have matured and selling them at the ordinary market price. It would be interesting to know how far that is being done, whether we may expect the acreage that matures to increase each year and consequently, whether the supply of native timber will increase, and how far it is being protected against foreign competition. We would like to know whether the Forestry Department is taking any steps to secure its expenses from sales of the kind to which I have referred.
If I were speaking entirely for my praise for the Minister. I would not venture even the very mild criticism that I have ventured. So far as Wicklow is concerned, the Department of Forestry is in the position of a fairy godmother. There are many parishes where people look to forestry as their main source of livelihood. So much is it valued in that county, so much are the activities of the Forestry Department appreciated, that I consider that when the programme for the whole country is in operation you will have a very considerable population in an equally appreciative frame of mind towards the Government. Certainly, in Wicklow, the work seems to be greatly esteemed. I do not think that it is merely for the sake of the work that it is esteemed. The people seem to like the idea of being engaged in an industry that is genuinely leading to the production of wealth, and that is exceedingly useful in so far as increasing the assets of the country is concerned.
I would like, however, to hear of the Minister's plans with regard to the country as a whole. I do not expect that he will go on a haphazard plan and plant merely wherever suitable land is offered. I expect that he will set about planting in areas such as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has referred to, in areas where the need for planting seems particularly obvious, where there is a great scarcity of trees, where the country has been denuded of timber. Speaking for a considerable amount of opinion on this subject, I am more than glad  to hear the Minister's statement that the operations of the Forestry Department are going to be extended. I believe there is no work on which the State could more usefully spend money. It is a line in which they can spend money with great benefit to the country, particularly in the present world circumstances when there is such a scarcity of timber and almost the danger of a famine.
Mr. McGovern Mr. McGovern
Mr. McGovern: The replanting of areas from which woods have been cut away is a matter of supreme importance. Within recent years, during the Great War and when there was trouble in this country, large areas were denuded of trees. There is nothing more important than to have these places, which have been eyesores for so long, replanted. I do not mean to say that that should be more than a beginning. There is nothing more necessary in some parts of the country than to have extensive schemes of tree-planting. I have in mind, particularly the wind-swept areas where the land is of little value for other purposes, where it can be acquired cheaply and where plantations would give the best results from the point of view of shelter. I would like to refer particularly to parts of County Cavan. There is a great shortage of timber and a great need for shelter. The land generally would be very much improved by the shelter afforded by a plantation. There is a great need for timber such as larch, which was referred to by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. I think that would be very important and that it should form part of every plantation scheme, because the thinning of larch leaves room for other kinds of timber to grow. In addition, larch can come into use in a very few years. It is the most useful kind of timber at an early date. It is the only timber that comes into use at a very early date, and when larch is thinned away it leaves sufficient room for the other timber to develop.
I should like to impress on the Minister the necessity for planting large areas in County Cavan, where there are many small farms and where  there is very inadequate shelter. It is a thing that a small farmer cannot very well undertake, and for that reason I suggest that the Government should go on with its planting scheme in such counties where there are small farms and areas of inferior land that require shelter more than superior lands require it. There is an area in West Cavan where an inspector from the Department had been for a number of years. He tried various experiments and found that the land in that area was uneconomic for use for agricultural purposes, but he said that it was very suitable for planting trees and not really suitable for anything else. I suggest that the Minister should try experiments in that area and take in very large belts for planting. I wish to stress particularly the necessity for planting larch because, as I said before, it will become useful at an early date, and every young plantation requires thinning after ten or twelve years, so that it would serve a double purpose. I suggest also that areas that require shelter the most should get the preference. That is all I have to say in regard to the matter, but I join with Deputy Moore and the others who have spoken in expressing the wish that these plantation schemes in the country should go on at a more rapid pace than they have been doing for some time. The woods have been almost cleared in some parts of the country and there is no timber at all left. I hope that the Minister will encourage planting.
Mr. F. Lynch Mr. F. Lynch
Mr. F. Lynch: I shall only delay the House for a few minutes in this matter because, in fact, it is something about which I know very little. I am not in the happy position, unfortunately, that Deputy Moore is in. He, apparently, can go down to his constituency and see the signs of the Forestry Department's operations all over the place and can find different persons in his constituency blessing the work of the Department. I suppose we ought to be thankful to Deputy Moore that he wound up his speech by wishing us well—those of us who represent the western constituencies—and hoping that the Forestry  Department will extend its activities on the western seaboard. As Deputy McGovern has pointed out, this country has been largely denuded of timber. Especially during the war years, when there were big prices for timber, many fine woods in various parts of the country—I know that it is true of Kerry, at any rate—very often were cut down without any planting being done to replace the trees that were taken away.
The Minister referred to a scheme whereby, if I understood him rightly, individual farmers are encouraged to plant by getting a certain amount for a minimum of five acres—£2 on plantation, £1 after five years, and, I think, £1 after ten years. The Minister said that it was impracticable to consider any lesser area than five acres. Speaking for the western seaboard as a whole, including Kerry—and I am speaking for more than Kerry; I am speaking of West Clare, Galway, Connemara, Western Mayo and Donegal— the holdings there are extremely small, as the Minister knows. In some cases they would contain a considerable amount of bog land and mountain, perhaps, in addition to their arable land. In any case, they are very small and five acres would be a very large amount, in the case of such holdings, to devote to timber, apart from the fact that it might be a rather big undertaking for an individual farmer. I think that the Minister ought to consider the possibility of getting some kind of a local committee of persons from adjoining small holdings. If there were 30 or 40 of them combined from adjoining townlands, each of whom would agree to plant, say, one acre, I think that that would meet the Minister's point that it would not be worth while sending down for inspection and so on for anything less than five acres. You would have then 30 or 40 acres in a confined area, which could be examined by an inspector in one trip. I think that where the Minister could get a local organisation of small holders, each prepared to plant, say, one acre, he should make some grant, proportionate perhaps to the present grant, for planting in such a small acreage.  I must say that I was extremely glad to hear Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney refer to an area actually on the sea-coast—the shore of Clew Bay—where you have a healthy wood. Undoubtedly, the propaganda was spread about that where you had bogland, or where it was actually a bog sub-soil or where you had the Atlantic sea breeze, it was unsuitable for planting. I did see some places which were planted by the old Congested Districts Board, and, undoubtedly, they did not appear to be very successful. I should like to know if any further experiments have been made by the Department of Forestry, or by the Land Commission in any of their reclamation schemes, with regard to what trees would be suitable for those areas. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred to the types of trees that are growing on the shore of Clew Bay. If they are growing there, they should be able to grow in Connemara, West Clare, Donegal or Kerry. Certainly, I think that in those wilder areas, where shelter belts are very badly needed, the Department ought to extend its activities. I did hear some months ago in Kerry—I think it was in January—that there was about to be some activity with regard to forestry in Kerry. I have heard nothing about it since, but I know that at the time certain persons were encouraged in the belief that work was going to start there in the way of afforestation. I should like to know whether anything has been done about it, and whether any of this land, for which we are providing the money here in connection with this proposal, is situated in Kerry, or how much is situated in the Gaeltacht as a whole, for instance; that is, between Kerry, West Cork, Clare, Mayo and Donegal. This is a type of Gaeltacht service which might have very good results; not immediate results, of course, because any benefits that may accrue will not accrue for a considerable number of years hence; but, at any rate, for the moment it would provide some little benefit, and might provide very great benefit in the future.
Mr. McMenamin Mr. McMenamin
Mr. McMenamin: The issues in connection with this matter with which I am much concerned have been dealt  with by Deputies Fitzgerald-Kenney and Lynch. I never heard before about this five-acre scheme; it is new to me. The same difficulties arose in my case as arose in the case of Deputy Lynch. Five acres is too great for a small holding. The suggestion made by Deputy Lynch is an excellent one and I would press that further. I would suggest that a townland or two or three townlands might be formed into a co-operative society, and a list of names made up of the people who owned these townlands—people who would plant, say, an acre each. An inspector could be sent down and the whole thing could be done together. It would be as easy for the inspector to supervise the planting of the whole three townlands as the planting of one plot. More attention should be given to this matter in the way of advertising, because the people do not know about this five-acre scheme. It could also be further advertised by sending the circulars to the churches. I have heard these circulars read out in the churches on Sundays. It is an excellent way of bringing a matter to the notice of the people concerned. I do not think the farmers of the country know anything about these five-acre schemes. Money could be well spent on advertising them. I know if the people were aware of these schemes many of them would avail of them. In some places it happens that there are hundreds of acres of a mountain in the possession of one man. A five-acre plot there would be very small. These would be useful as shelter belts and as beauty places. In addition there will be the value of the timber afterwards. The western counties are sadly in need of these shelter belts.
On these grounds I have already urged the importance of these plantations but now there are additional grounds. As far as we are concerned in Donegal the position with regard to the scarcity of timber has become a very serious question. The transport from Dublin to Donegal makes the cost of timber in Donegal prohibitive. For all practical purposes there is no efficient sawmill in the county. We are now adopting a huge plan of  building in connection with the Local Government Department. There is a Bill before the House with regard to the extension of housing and for making advances under the Housing Acts. There are two schemes: one under the Local Government and the other under the Gaeltacht Housing. If both schemes are taken up in a very big way there is no doubt that there will be an additional burden owing to the increased cost of timber. I understand that the price of timber in Donegal is 30 per cent. over what it is in Dublin and over what it is in the City of Derry. On to-morrow or some day very soon we will have the Second Reading of a measure for Gaeltacht housing. As a matter of fact, in order to encourage building in the Gaeltacht and through the country generally the advances are to be increased from 80 per cent. to 90 per cent. of the cost, that is to say, £10 more will be given in every £100. That is all to the good. It looks very good on paper but under the present conditions the major portion of that £10 would be swallowed up in the increased cost of timber.
I am making these points in order to direct the Minister's attention to Donegal and to see what he can do in this direction for the county. Deputy Moore has been in a very pleasant mood about the position in the County Wicklow. Well might he be. You can hardly put your foot down in Wicklow without watching yourself for fear of breaking down a young plant of two or three years old. But nothing has been done in Donegal. In a general way there is no county in the Free State in greater need of shelter belts for beautifying the landscape and providing timber for use afterwards than Donegal. The county no doubt is beautiful in two respects. One part of it is rugged, but in the finer scenery of the other part you are struck by the absence of growing timber.
The question of the cutting down of demesnes to which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred is an important one in this respect. Some landlords have sold out and have no further interests in the place. When selling the land they sold the timber on the demesne  to some of those people who will buy anything to make money on it. They slaughtered the timber, tore up the place and left nothing behind but shrubs. Places have become desolate and derelict and an eyesore where previously lovely plantations gave the countryside a great attraction.
We had repeated statements in the past here about bog land not being suitable for the growing of timber. I think I could make a case and defend the bogs in that respect. I do not know anything about the technical side of growing timber but I do know this and I would like an explanation given by those who presume to be experts. All the small houses built in the poorer parts of Donegal in the past—that is from the time when it was first occupied by human beings down to the present day—were roofed with timber raised out of the bog. This timber taken out of the bog was also used for many other purposes. In the Donegal cottages even yet one sees bedsteads that have been made of the bog timber as were many articles of furniture in these houses. How was it that the county produced this timber? Perhaps the technical advisers on this matter would tell us? There are thousands of tons of this timber lying yet in the bogs. How did it get there? It must have grown there. That timber, used for roofing in those houses, is still quite intact and in perfect condition. It looks as hard as a bar of steel. If the case is only made against us for the purpose of turning us down I am taking up the position that I refuse to be turned down until an answer is given to this question.
There are thousands and thousands of acres of land in Donegal that could be used for the purpose of tree planting. I know that those who are scientifically concerned in the planting of timber will plant it where it is easiest to do so. They will plant it down in the County Wicklow where there is shallow earthed mountains, with no trouble about draining these mountains. All you have to do is to sling down the posts and wire the place. But in other counties there are obstacles which must be overcome.  I would like to know from the experts particulars as to the unsuitability of the County Donegal—taking the county generally—as to the prospect of development in the growing of timber. Sometimes the excuse is put up that the land has to be drained and that sort of thing.
I think the Government ought to look into this matter and find out for themselves. It is not a question of planting the timber where it is easiest or most attractive; I appeal to the Minister to travel more rapidly in this matter of tree planting and remember that Wicklow is not the only county in Ireland. There are other counties. Wicklow is near Dublin and transport costs are at a minimum. Donegal is isolated and nobody's child and transport costs there are at the maximum. They are a very serious burden on the poor people who require timber and who are now trying to rehouse themselves; trying to live like human beings under better housing conditions and endeavouring to eliminate the terrible scourge of tuberculosis in the county. If timber is planted now in Donegal it will, when matured, be as urgently needed for building purposes there as it is to-day.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
Mr. Connolly: I have been almost excited on listening to the general approval that has been accorded to forestry here this afternoon and particularly interested in the contribution from Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. One might, of course, be pardoned the thought that after all these years of the administration that preceded us in office so little attention was paid to forestry. From my point of view, I think that nothing reflects so badly on the lack of understanding of economic conditions, of the possibilities of the future and of the needs of the country, as this almost complete neglect that took place with regard to forestry during the last ten or twelve years. I was very interested in hearing the expressions of views of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and Deputy Lynch. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raised an issue which is all important and I will deal with it in a moment or two. First, I should like to get off my mind one or two pertinent questions which  he asked. In answer to his specific questions with regard to the planting of trees last year, the following are the proportions: Scots and other Pines, 39½ per cent. of the total; Sitka Spruce, 26 per cent.; Norway Spruce, 16 per cent.; Hardwoods, 2 per cent.; European Larch and Japanese Larch, 11½ per cent., and Douglas Fir, 2½ per cent.
He also enquired definitely as to the type of seed the Department purchased and whence it was imported. We purchased from the western coast of America 370 lbs., which included Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, Lodgepole Pole Pine, etc.; from Alaska, 20 lb. of Sitka Spruce; from California, 20 lbs. of Cupressus Macrocarpa and Pinus Radiata; from Denmark, 20 lbs. of Mountain Pine; from Corsica, 50 lbs. of Corsican Pine; from Germany, 1,270 lbs., including Beech, Walnut, Oak, Spruce, etc.; from Holland, 500 lbs. of Oak; from England, 100 lbs. of Spanish Chestnut; from Japan, 160 lbs. of Japanese Larch; from Austria, 200 lbs. of Larch; from Switzerland, 175 lbs. of Larch; from Czecho-Slovakia, 25 lbs. of Larch, and from Scotland, 330 lbs. of Scotch Pine and Larch. Those are the specific details of our purchases and also the percentages of timbers which we planted last year. Several Deputies have stressed the need for larch, and I think most people will admit that larch is one of the most useful timbers the agricultural population of Ireland can use. So far as I know, there has been no scarcity of larch. I have not heard in any part of the country any complaint that there is either an absence or a scarcity of larch. That does not, however, mean that we should not look to the future and provide adequately for the larch requirements of the future. Larch is, undoubtedly, one of the most useful timbers a farmer can contemplate using, and for that reason, larch is being, and will be, attended to.
I did not indicate in my opening remarks the wider policy of forestry development that the Government has in mind and I did not do so for the  simple reason that I was dealing with a specific Estimate and that Estimate was planned on an expanded programme over last year's. It does not, however, in any way, meet my views as regards what forestry developments are needed in this country. I have already indicated through the Press and otherwise the position of this country with regard to forestry. We have, as a matter of fact, only 1 per cent. of the land in this country under trees. I have made public that fact and have indicated that we are practically the most-denuded-of-trees country in the world at the present time. Britain, which has not paid any great attention until recent years to the timber problem, has something like 5½ per cent.; the United States has 25 per cent.; and Czecho-Slovakia has one-third of its land under timber and is proceeding to plant another 1,000,000 acres. The one thing which does stand out above all others for those who are interested in the problem, either of forestry or timber needs, is that at present the world is consuming 50 per cent. more timber than it is producing and that fact has been my main stimulus in urging much wider activities even than are contained in the Estimate here.
As a matter of fact, I have indicated that my belief is that we in this State should aim at securing the plantation of 500,000 acres over a 20-year period and should not be thinking in terms of spending £100,000 on forestry but should be contemplating up to £500,000 per annum in the development of forestry for two reasons. One reason is that probably nothing gives so much employment for ordinary labour, and the second is that it is the best investment the State could possibly make in the way of a long-term investment for the future. It is too soon yet to intimate exactly what we propose to do but I hope to introduce a Forestry Bill here, if possible before the recess, and have it under way before the Dáil adjourns so that the programme can be started this autumn. I think forestry ought to be approached as a big economic business, as an economic proposition, which should be dealt with independently of a Department,  and for that reason my mind is running on the lines of the establishment of a Board which would have freedom to develop and to go on with a long-term policy. The big danger in forestry is that if there is any break in the carrying on of the work, what has been spent prior to that break may very well be lost. If there is not continuity with forestry above all things, the money primarily invested in it is wasted, and for that reason I can only see the one cure and that is to have a Forestry Board somewhat on the lines of the Electricity Supply Board which will be subject to a directorate, which will be guided in turn by the Minister and subject always to the Government in power. For that reason, I do not think I require any urge in respect of forestry.
My main interest, once the scheme is developed, once the main programme is accepted, is to get as much of that development as possible on the western seaboard. I realise, as Deputy Lynch, no doubt, realises and as we all realise, the absolute necescity for providing work in the Gaeltacht and I have looked forward to the widest possible development of forestry in the Gaeltacht as one of the big means of relieving unemployment in those areas, and relieving it in a way that will be constructive and ultimately reproductive. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raised the question of the western counties and I sincerely hope he is entirely right in all the arguments he has put forward. There is considerable difference of opinion from the point of view of scientific forestry as to whether or not trees can be grown on bad soils. There are people who will tell you that it cannot be done. There are others who will tell you it can be done at great expense; in other words, that it may not be economic. There are others who will point to the fact that trees did grow there, that trees are growing in the immediate neighbourhood, and so on. All we can say is that we are determined to have the closest possible scientific examination of those soils, and of those areas where work is required. In so far as it is possible, even at expenditure  slightly above what is considered the economic standard of the moment, we will try to develop all those areas. I shall be glad if Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney will give me particulars of the areas where he is certain that trees can be grown, if he will also give me particulars of the areas where he thinks trees can be grown, and if he will give me the areas which he thinks we ought to examine to see if, by increased expenditure, trees can be grown. We must keep within certain limits for economic forestry, but I am satisfied that by drainage, reclamation work, and a certain amount of use of fertilisers, we can get results.
There is, however, one obstacle from the practical forestry point of view, and that is the problem of the wind. It is true that you will get sheltered corners around the West, but it is also true that you will get many areas where it is very doubtful, indeed, whether or not forestry will be successful. Whilst willing to take every chance, and willing to expend money, perhaps a little beyond the margin which is looked upon as economic forestry, we do not want to have failures, because failures in this work will only dishearten other people who come after us. I am satisfied that a great deal of the waste land can be used. The Department is working to that end. Now we come to one of the practical difficulties. Deputy Lynch, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and other Deputies, will know that what we inherited was a very bare skeleton of a Department, where nothing had been done, practically speaking, in the way of the development of scientific forestry. Within the last two years we lost the former director. Last year we lost the assistant director, who had been promoted to the position of director. We have only a very limited staff of inspectors, and forestry inspectors cannot be raised overnight. However, when the Forestry Bill comes before the House there will be an opportunity of seeing what is in mind. As I say at the moment we have only a skeleton organisation, which will have to be built up almost from the ground-floor, and that is being done at present.
 Various technical points were raised. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney asked about new experiments, and whether we had learned about the quick production of poplars. I think we are fully aware of the experiments that are going on, and are fully posted as regards what claims have been made for certain new varieties that have been introduced. I have heard recently something which I cannot possibly believe, namely, that in America they have produced a walnut which will be mature in fifteen years. That seems to me inconceivable, but nevertheless the claim is made. The points raised by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and other Deputies will all be noted and covered. I want to give the general policy that we hope to put through. I should like to stress that in those Gaeltacht counties, and in counties like Donegal, Mayo and the rest, our whole anxiety is as to whether we will be able to get enough land that will produce timber, and on which we can turn the people on to the work of reafforestation. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney complained that I did not indicate in what part of the country we were growing timber, and so on. Great stress has been laid on the position of County Wicklow. I have not done any particular “drive” in Wicklow since I took over the Department, but Wicklow is a county which naturally lends itself to forestry development. There is a great deal of land in Wicklow which is suitable for forestry, and which in many cases is suitable for nothing else, but I should like it to be understood that we have no particular gradh for Wicklow any more than any place else. As a matter of fact, my feeling is that Wicklow has done very well in forestry, and I should like to see the poorer counties, where there are less opportunities for employment, doing equally well. I do not mean to “let down” Wicklow, but I want equally good operations carried on particularly in the counties of the Gaeltacht and along the Western seaboard. We all know that the problem of providing employment in the Gaeltacht is an acute one, and I certainly am anxious to have the help that  forestry will mean to us in those areas. The question of publicity has been mentioned. There are a good many agricultural committees in the country; I think there are 20 county committees of agriculture all over the country, and I think all those are fully aware of what the Forestry Department is prepared to do. Moreover, 20 of those committees themselves have a system for forestry development, and I would suggest that Deputies should put their people in touch with those county committees. I note, however, the suggestion that we perhaps might advertise more. In so far as we can advertise we will do so, and try to push forward the forestry idea in the country.
Deputy Moore has raised the question as to whether we could be more generous with regard to the amounts we offer for land. I do not think it is the desire of the Department to exploit any people, or to take advantage of any people. I do admit, however, that in some cases the price offered for land for forestry purposes has been low, and is, on the whole, low, but the Director of Forestry and the forestry inspectors naturally are thinking in terms of making forestry an economic proposition. They realise the amount of labour that has to go into it. They realise the first cost, and they want to see what the ultimate result is going to be. I may say, á propos of that, that every scheme is examined from the cold economic point of view, as regards what it will produce ultimately.
I will go into the question with the directors and see what can be done with regard to price. Everything depends on the quality of the land; everything depends on how that land can be used. We are often offered land at £2 an acre which it would not pay us to take at any price. Deputy Moore also raised a question as regards the receipts. If he refers to the Appropriation Account he will find that a certain amount has been taken credit for. The receipts from the following ten centres were as follows:—Monaghan, £1,083; Gort, £321; Rathdrum, £232; Dundrum, £193; Dundalk, £152; Camolin, £110; Emo,
 £100; Kilrush, £92; Killeshandra, £89; Durrow, £60. Now we want to be clear about this, and we must realise that unless forestry is a developed business, or on the point of development, you cannot expect an economic return from your timber. A great deal of the timber we have here is only scrap and rubbish; it is sold for firewood and is fit for nothing else. The plan I would like to forward and which will have to be supported by authority is a plan definitely of production for the future, for the needs of the country, and in order to replace our present imports. That covers a wide field. There are certain timbers that we must continue to import. You are not going to grow mahogany and other select hardwoods for furniture. The big need in timber in the future is pulp, and the big need will be of certain types for pulp that will clean the forests. I figure in 20 years you will have enough clean forest land to supply practically all the pulp we need. The other timber that will be wanted will be ash, oak and elm and hardwoods that will grow in this country. But these hardwoods are very slow growing. There is a striking need in this country of timbers of that nature. Ash is scarce; elm is also fairly scarce; larch is not so scarce. There is a percentage of oak here, and probably 85 to 90 per cent. of conifers, or soft quick-growing timber, and 20 per cent. of hardwoods but, of course, they will not mature in our time.
Deputy Lynch raised other points with regard to Kerry. I may say Kerry is one of the counties most active in this new development in forestry. There is a very active committee at work which has gathered together materials and advise as to what land is available for forestry for the Department. We have had something like 15,000 or 16,000 acres offered to us. Of course in many cases people offer lands not fit for anything, not even for forestry, but all these lands will be carefully inspected by our inspectors. It is said that we have no skeleton scheme under way. We have about 1,304 acres in Muckross, and we hope to have a quite big development in Kerry. Last year we planted in  Muckross, in addition to 132 acres, four acres of nursery, and we hope this is only a start of what we will be able to do.
Deputy McMenamin referred to the position in Donegal. Well, it is true Donegal cannot import by sea enormous cargoes as can be imported in Dublin. Still a great many cargoes can come into it by sea. I think the Deputy is not fully aware of the timber business in Donegal. The county committee have already a nursery at Ballybofey, for the supplying of plants and a forester is employed for the purpose of giving information to any people who want to do planting. Again, like Connemara, Kerry and various parts of the Gaeltacht in which I want to see forestry taken up, Donegal has to get land that will grow trees. The question of wind and of sour peat water arises. But I can assure Deputies that one of my main objects in trying to drive forestry forward is to get at the solution of the problem in the Gaeltacht.
Vote put and agreed to.
Dáil Éireann 53 In Committee on Finance. Vote 55—Forestry.