Dáil Éireann - Volume 75 - 03 May, 1939
Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Forestry (Resumed).
Minister for Lands (Mr. Boland) Gerald Boland
Minister for Lands (Mr. Boland): The total net Vote proposed for the current year is £185,424, an increase of £37,321 on the provision for 1938-39. The increase is mainly under sub-head C (1), which provides for the acquisition of land. The area taken over last year amounts to 7,509 acres and represents a reduction as compared with previous years. The restrictions on the Land Commission's power of acquiring land to which I referred when dealing with the last Vote have naturally affected the provision of land for  afforestation, much of which is found each year on estates divided by the Land Commission. There are a number of large blocks of land which will come into the Department's possession early this year so that acquisition of land has not fallen so much behind as would appear at first, and it is hoped that the figures for the current financial year will show a very considerable increase in the area of State forest land.
The past year has been marked by continued claims to grazing and turbary rights and to rights of way on land acquired for forestry purposes and these claims have seriously impeded operations and necessitated a curtailment of the planting programme. Unfortunately, enthusiasm for forestry is singularly lacking in certain districts where forestry operations could be undertaken on a comparatively large scale with every prospect of success, and where the local people would benefit by an extension of the State's effort to build up strong reserves of timbered land.
The area planted during the season just closing amounts to about 7,500 acres (final figures are not yet available) as compared with 7,388 acres for the season 1937-38. This is a slight increase, but a greater programme would have been carried through if it were not for the local opposition previously referred to. I fully expected we would have planted 10,000 acres this year.
The total area of forest land in the hands of the State is now approximately 127,590 acres, of which about 85,000 acres are under plantations, the remainder being scrub-covered land not yet cleared, bare land ready for planting, unplantable land, etc. The number of forest centres has been increased by seven, recent additions being centres at Granard, County Longford; Lisgoold, County Cork; Freshford, County Kilkenny; Ballinasloe, County Galway; Lough Gill, County Sligo, and Ossory, County Leix. There is now only one county— County Meath—in which no land has as yet been acquired by the State for forestry purposes.
 The problem of providing more employment on forest work in the Gaeltacht and in western districts generally is being pursued but it has been found, as in previous years, that land of suitable quality for planting is difficult to secure even in comparatively small lots and most of the land offered for forestry purposes consists of exposed mountain areas with poor soil conditions or of still more useless bog.
The provision required in respect of each sub-head is shown in the Estimates Volume and I need refer only to the items which seem to call for special comment. There is an increase of £1,819 under sub-head A, due to normal increases in salaries and additions to staff. There is an increase of £25,000 under sub-head C (1) for the acquisition of land. The amounts voted under this sub-head being by way of Grant-in-Aid are not surrendered at the end of the financial year. The unexpended balance in the fund on 31st March last was £21,298, but against this there are commitments in respect of the purchase of some 9,000 acres for which the Department's offers have been accepted by the owners and about 11,000 acres in the hands of the Land Commission. Offers for the purchase of large additional areas will issue as soon as possible and there are prospects of the acquisition of some 30,000 acres additional to the State forest land in the near future.
There is an increase of £11,557 under sub-head C (2). This is mainly due to the increase in labourers' wages and a reduction in the hours of work.
The amount required for the purchase of seeds, seedlings and transplants has been reduced to a minimum in view of the extensive stocks now available in the State nurseries. The supply of seeds must, of course, be continued annually, but purchases of seedlings and transplants from outside sources should not normally be necessary to any great extent. As, however, plants are usually three years old when finally planted out it will be appreciated that, ignoring the seasonal fluctuations in the returns from any given quantities of seed, it would be necessary to settle planting programmes  definitely three years in advance in order to permit of the purchases of the correct proportions of seed of the various species. The Department have not yet been able to secure a definite reserve of plantable land sufficiently far in advance, or to confine planting operations to the older established forest areas and, therefore, the selection of species of seed to be purchased has to be made on a somewhat arbitrary basis with the result that there has been a surplus of plants of one or two varieties and a shortage in others.
Purchases of seedlings and transplants are confined, as far as possible, to commercial nurseries in this country, but it is frequently necessary to obtain stocks from both Great Britain and the Continent.
The number of men employed during the past year rose from a minimum of 1,114 in June to a total of 2,092 during the month of March, which is usually the peak period of employment. The corresponding figures for the year 1937-38 were 1,046 and 2,111, respectively.
There have been established up to the present 91 separate forest areas. The shortage of trained staff is being overcome as rapidly as possible and 12 trainees are being recruited annually. A very good type of candidate is being secured through the medium of the examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners and a sound practical and theoretical training extending over a period of not less than three years is given to the successful competitors.
Provision is being made for the erection this year of three foresters' residences. Many of the forest areas are situated in isolated districts and it is not often possible to purchase, with the lands, suitable types of buildings for occupation by the officers in charge. As a consequence, foresters often have to reside at inconvenient distances from the areas under their control and this is unsatisfactory. The Department hope to give special attention to the provision of houses for foresters in the future. The erection of  the three houses this year is only a start and I hope many more will soon follow.
There is a decrease of £1,107 under sub-head C (3). The main provision is in respect of the running of the Department's sawmill at Dundrum, County Tipperary, and provision has been made for certain necessary repairs and replacements of the machinery. There is also a portable sawing equipment located at Avondale, Rathdrum, County Wicklow, but the purchase of additional equipment of this type, which had been contemplated in previous years, has been postponed, pending further consideration of the results to be obtained from the use of the one on hands.
There is a small increase of £50 under sub-head D (1). This is mainly needed to provide for payment of the second instalment of the grant in respect of areas planted some years ago. There is no sign of any increased demand for these grants, which are intended to assist landowners to undertake planting operations on proper lines, on their own lands. This is regrettable and the Department would be very glad to see owners of lands which are not suitable for other purposes carrying out planting operations to a much greater extent. No conditions are imposed which are not necessary for the production of trees of timber quality, and, even allowing for the cost of necessary fencing against rabbits, a grant of £4 per acre planted should be a considerable inducement to land owners to put some of their waste ground to profitable and serviceable use.
The amount asked for under sub-head D (2) is the same as last year. Under the scheme a limited number of trees is supplied free to any school for planting by the pupils in the school grounds or other suitable places. The number of schools participating decreases every year. In 1935, the first year of the scheme, over 1,500 schools participated; in 1936 the number was about 900, in 1937 this had fallen to 641, and last year only 572 schools applied for trees. This falling off,  however, can be ascribed, to a large extent, to the fact that many of the schools have planted up all the land readily available to their pupils.
There is a slight increase in the amount asked for under sub-head E (1) as compared with last year. The scheme for the provision of an annual scholarship in forestry, tenable at the National University, has been dropped, at least for the present. A number of private students are now, and for some years back, taking this course in the University, and as these students, on graduation, will meet the needs of the State Forest service for trained forestry experts it is not considered advisable to continue the award of scholarships. Provision has been made for the maintenance of the scholarship awarded in 1937.
Separate provision has been made for the first time this year for sending two subordinate technical officers for a course of training abroad of about three months' duration. Last year a forester and a trainee who had finished the course at the Avondale School of Forestry were sent to Germany to study conditions and organisation in the German forest service. It is considered that experience gained as a result of training courses in other countries will be of considerable advantage to the forestry service of this country in later years.
The provision for the upkeep of the Avondale School of Forestry is on the same lines as last year as it was not found possible to complete the installation of electric light and the new water supply before the close of the last financial year. There are at present 24 trainees (12 first year and 12 third year trainees) in residence at the school. The ten second year trainees are located at various forest centres throughout the country.
The estimated income from all sources is shown under sub-head H and an increase of about £350 on the figure for 1938/39 is anticipated.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I gathered from the Minister that he himself is disappointed, with the result of this year's  forestry campaign. Everybody in this House and in the country must share with the Minister that feeling of disappointment. So far as I can gather, instead of the 10,000 acres anticipated, 7,000 acres were taken over, which is something less than last year.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: A little more. The figure was 7,500.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: In any event, no increase is being made. The Minister's explanation was that, over a certain area, persons were making claims to rights of turbary and other matters and that, until those rights were settled, the land could not be planted. I must frankly confess that that does not seem to me to be an adequate or satisfactory explanation because the Department have in hand 127,000 acres, of which 85,000 acres have already been planted. The Minister will pardon me if I am wrong because he read his statement rather quickly.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: The Deputy is correct.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Unless I am a very bad arithmetician, 42,000 acres are in the hands of the Department and available for plantation at present. It does seem to me to be incredible that with an area of over 42,000 acres in the hands of the Department, 3,000 acres cannot be got to which no claims for turbary rights are being made. That seems to me to be, if the Minister will allow me to say so, an explanation which itself requires very great explaining. I can understand that in isolated places there may be persons with claims over bogs which have been passed over, but they must be very few, because if one takes this country as a whole, all the land has been bought out. Nearly all the land in this country is now registered land and a map attached to every registered holding will show the turbary rights attached to that holding. I cannot really understand, except in a very few isolated instances, how any genuine or serious claim to turbary rights can be set up. Moreover, turbary rights must be existing rights. You can always tell if turf is being cut on a bog, because you  see the opening in the bank and you can tell the difference between a bank cut last year and a bank that has not been cut for ten years. Why, if there are turbary rights obvious to the eye, the Department buy the land without first getting an explanation that there are such turbary rights, I cannot understand. I must frankly say to the Minister that his explanation does not seem to me to be an explanation at all. That with 40,000 acres in hands at the present moment there are not another 2,000 acres, which would make up the necessary deficit in his Estimate, appears to me to be practically impossible.
I have on previous occasions, speaking upon this Estimate, asked the Minister, as indeed I asked his predecessors, if there has been any attempt to draw up a genuine forestry programme. Are you planting with a definite end in view? Are you planting a particular type of tree in the hope that in 20, 40, or 60 years, as the case may be, it will fill a definite want? Are you planting timber for paper pulp? Are you planting timber from which matches can be made, or are you planting timber for roofing, flooring and other housing purposes? I have asked what the design is. I have asked if there is any planned economy in the planting, small as it is, which is going on, and I never got an answer from the Minister, nor could I get from his predecessors a statement that anything is being done, except, seemingly, to take up certain areas and put down this, that or the other sort of tree haphazard, without considering what sort of market will be available for the tree when it has matured.
If there is a policy in the mind of the Department I wish they would tell it to us. To-day is not the first day that I have put this before the Minister, but I can never get an answer. I sincerely hope that some time or another the Minister and his officials will put their heads together and we will be told what the forestry scheme in this country is to be. I think it was two years ago I pointed out— I am not quite sure whether it was to the present Minister or his predecessor  —that experiments were being made by Messrs. Bryant and May, the big English match manufacturers, in plantations that they were making in Scotland. I asked the Minister if they also would consider the planting of timber, especially quick-growing poplar, the modern poplar, which matures and is full grown in 15 to 20 years; if they were making any experiments with that kind of tree. Again, one could get no answer. One is told that a certain number of trees are being planted. We were told there is a surplus of one kind. What kind? We were told there is a deficiency of another. What was the other? These are the things one would like to know, but this mysterious Forestry Department seems to have got into the depths of a forest itself, a forest throwing such a terrible shade around it that none of the light which is in the Department can get outside and reach the members of this House.
I would like a little statement from the Minister telling us precisely what is the end in view and what steps are being taken to further that end. I think the Minister might, on occasions, go a little bit further and tell us what class of trees the experiments of the Forestry Department are discovering as a success. The Minister says there is a failure in the scheme of voluntary planting, that very few people are taking advantage of the £4 an acre. If the Minister were to say to those people, or to people generally in any particular county, that a particular class of tree is doing extraordinarily well and it is a tree that might very easily be planted and the returns to be got out of it will be fairly quick and there is a market for it—suppose something of that kind were done I believe a good deal more would be obtained in the shape of tree planting.
So far as voluntary planting is concerned, there is one terrible handicap and that is a matter, of course, over which this Department has no control and in regard to which the Department of Agriculture has not been able to give very much assistance. That is the terrible rabbit plague which exists in the country. There is also another  plague, from which trees I planted suffered. It came rather unexpectedly to me. I thought that the rabbit was bad enough, because he marks the tree, but the tree may recover. Then I discovered a considerable number of my young trees had their heads chopped off and I could not make out what had done it. They were cut as cleanly as if by a knife and they were cut up 18 inches or two feet above the ground. I was tremendously puzzled as to what was doing this till I discovered that hares going round amuse themselves standing on their hind legs and biting the tops off the trees. That was entirely new to me. There is a tremendous increase in hares and they are likewise an enemy to forestry. I did not know that menace existed. Not only do they attack various trees but, strange to say, they also attack shrubs, and one of the things a hare likes to cut is a rose bush. One would think a hare would be afraid of the thorns, but seemingly it is not.
In regard to those surplus plants, I think without any wrong to any nurseryman those surplus plants could be given out in aid of this scheme by which £4 an acre is given, provided that they are a suitable tree for planting. That is why I should like to know of what particular variety there is this surplus. Let us suppose that somebody is going to plant a couple of acres which he would not otherwise plant, and the Department says: “In addition to giving you £4 an acre, we will be able to sell you those trees very cheaply,” I do not think there would be any wrong to any nurseryman or private producer, for the simple reason that an area is getting planted which would not be planted otherwise. I am not quite so sure as to what the Minister said about the planting of trees beside schools. I have one school in mind where I think the planting of trees has been a terrific mistake. They planted Lawson cypress, which is very fast-growing, and the result is that I do not think any light can get in through the windows of that school at all. It is very much more important that the children should have good light to work by, than that the surroundings of the school should look  pretty. I should very much rather see shrubs immediately around the school, especially flowering shrubs, than forest trees, which are out of place in a small area.
The Minister said that they are being offered a considerable amount of area which they do not think suitable for planting—exposed mountain area and bog area. I wish they would try. Let them take some of those exposed mountains and some of those bogs, and, even though they may lose a little by an experiment, make the effort. Those bogs have borne trees before. I myself know plenty of places where you will find trees growing upon absolutely virgin uncut bog. It can be done. It may require a certain amount of drainage, but it can be successfully done, and I wish the Department would attempt it. I do not believe that, for practical purposes, any area is too exposed for planting, if it is judiciously and properly done, and certain trees which will stand exposure are planted there. If you take a very bleak area, say around Renville, in the County Galway, which is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic, you will find the trees starting very low, and then you will see them come up until they develop into full size trees when they are about 30 or 40 yards from the western side of the plantation. There are trees that will stand a great deal of wind. There is the Pinus Insignis, for example. I have seen a very small number of them grow together in a most exposed place—as a matter of fact it is in the County Waterford—and they are growing most magnificently. The most magnificent specimens of that timber I know are in Ashford, in the County Galway. I should like to know from the Minister if he can give us at the present moment any information as to whether or not Ashford is going to be used as a forestry station. There is a great number of reports that it is going to be used as a forestry station, and there is a great number of reports that it is going to be broken up. Of course, if the Minister is not in a position to make a statement at the present moment, well and good, but we should like to know whether his  Department—or, if I might so put it, the two branches of his Department; the Department of which he is the active king, and the Department of which he is the nominal king—have yet made up their minds as to whether Ashford is to be used for the relief of congestion, or whether Ashford is to be used as a forestry station. Certainly it is a place in which that particular variety of pine which I mentioned a moment ago luxuriates in a most extraordinary way. I wonder whether in other parts of the West of Ireland—where, as far as my experience goes, the Corsican pine gets up to a very considerable height and then seems to die away—this pine may not be a very much better tree to plant.
That is the sort of definite information I should like to have from the Department, but the Department always keeps all its information for itself. I do hope that during the coming year the Minister will make a better drive because, certainly, speaking for myself, I think that forestry in this country is an industry which could give a very considerable amount of employment. At the same time, it is not a waste of money. It is money invested. The interest thereon is, undoubtedly, greatly deferred but it is money invested, and I certainly should like if the Minister could go to the Executive Council and get them to agree that the money which is now being spent on the dole in the West of Ireland and, generally, in the plantable parts of Ireland, be spent not upon dole, not upon unemployment assistance, but upon forestry work. The 43,000 acres which you have on hands might then be planted in a year. I have nothing to add, but I hope we will get an assurance from the Minister that he will “put his back into it” this year, and that we will see good results.
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: I do not think I will occupy very much of the time of the House. I have a number of points to make, but as they are in the nature of speculation I do not think the Minister will pay much attention to them. I was very pleased to hear from the Minister that some of his forestry  people have been sent over to the Continent to get some information. I think that will do them a lot of good. while they are there, I think it would be just as well if, having regard to what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said, they were sent to Switzerland, with a view to seeing on what lands and on what mountain heights trees can be planted. So far as I can learn, trees will practically send their roots into any portion of soil. If there is any chance at all, they will do it. They will grow in exposed positions, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said, if there is a certain amount of care taken to give them some protection. The trees further in begin to grow after the outward ones have grown crooked and all that; the others are soon a proper height. I should like, if I may, to refer to two extraordinary statements made by the Minister in winding up the debate on the last Estimates.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: Last year?
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: Yes, Sir. I will not take very long. I think the Minister may like to hear it, and it is for that purpose I am saying it. One of the things he said was that he was not an expert in forestry. I am not either. He also said: “I have to take the advice of my experts”—which, of course, is excellent—“I will continue to do so, so long as I am satisfied with the work they are doing and that they know their job.” One thing that came to my mind from that is, if the Minister is not an expert, how does he know if his officials are experts—if he is not claiming infallibility for himself and his experts? The other thing he said was: “I do not want to hear a man talk who simply read a book.” That was meant for me. As a matter of fact, most of our knowledge is got from books. That is an extraordinary statement and I think the Minister ought to think over it again, because, if that is his view, there is no use in our coming here and listening to people talking, as they got most of their knowledge from books. Coming to the Vote, there is something like £196,000 to be voted this year. There is a  deduction from that of some £11,000. As already mentioned, the estimate was that 10,000 acres were to be planted in the present year, but the actual planting is short of that by some 2,000 acres.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: Two thousand five hundred acres.
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: That is 25 per cent. of the estimate. The number of acres to be planted, as envisaged by the Department up to last year, was 200,000. They increased that goal last year by 100,000 acres. In view of the fact that they increased that by 100,000 acres and increased the acreage to be planted up to 10,000 acres, it strikes me that they made a very bad showing last year. I suggest the reason why we had a deficiency in the estimated acreage was because there was no earnestness, no real desire, no attempt to realise that estimated acreage. I attribute that to the traditions that were in the Department. Bad habits and traditions are very hard to break away from. If they attack a Department it is very difficult to eradicate them. My view is that the traditions which are in the Department are begotten of what this country went through while under foreign control. That control and the traditions that existed have permeated the Department and become part of it and the present officials have not been able yet to get rid of the traditions that are left. Do not take it that I am accusing the British of leaving traditions here from my own mouth. In 1920 there was a British Empire Forestry conference held. It was the first ever held. We were still part of the Empire then. To show that I am not talking through my hat, I shall quote an extract from what Lord Lovat, who was chairman of the conference, stated. He said:—
“It is an unfortunate fact, but one that it is necessary to mention, that while our race is the least interested of all nations in forestry science, we are of all nations the most active in the destruction of forest resources. Canadian sawmills, American logging organisation, New Zealand and Australian axe-men  are the last word in efficiency and despatch. Almost every devilish invention for the destruction of growing timber owes its conception to the Anglo-Saxon mind.”
That shows that that mentality was in the Department before this Government or the last Government came into existence and that the reason we are not getting more forward in forestry and that the estimates of the Department are not realised is because that mentality is still in the Department.
One would have imagined that after 1922, when we took over the Government ourselves, there would have been a change of heart and that the officials of the Department would have begun to see that it would have been better to serve the people. But I feel that they could not get out of it, that they were in a state of coma. They were without any ideas at all and they continued in that way. That is one of the reasons why we have not realised the estimate of 10,000 acres this year. That, of course, seems like an attack on the Department, but I should like to state very definitely that I have no wish to attack the Department. I am attributing what is happening to the heritage and legacy they got from this business legacy that we have got here, as Lord Lovat says, and that they are not altogether to be blamed for it. I do hope, however, that other ideas will come into the mind of the Forestry Department people and that they will do their best to serve the country because the work they have to do will be of tremendous advantage to the country when it is done. Probably the Minister does not think so because he takes the advice of his experts.
The timber which Lord Lovat referred to as being cut down in England, Ireland, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, everywhere the British went, was cut down in the most ignorant fashion. If they cut it properly the forests would have regenerated themselves and there would have been perpetual forests. Of course the new growth would not be so strong as the old. The trees would  be there to a great extent, not perhaps in every portion of the country, but in many parts of it. With regard to forests being perpetuated, in Sweden, in 1225, a company was started called The Great Mountain Copper Mining Company. Smelting of are was done there up to about 200 years ago largely by the use of charcoal or wood. This company was started as a mining company. It is still in existence, principally as a paper pulp exporting company, but it is still in existence. In most Continental countries they do not cut down the timber in the same way as was done in America, Canada, and elsewhere. In most Continental countries the amount of trees that they replant is almost equal to the amount they cut down. That company to which I have referred has been in existence for some 700 years, and the people living in that district, with their families that were formed and grew up, as a result of the industries of one kind or another there, continue to live there. That is what forestry would do for this country if we could get it into the Minister's head that we are not talking “bunk.” The trees in this country were destroyed principally, I think, for smelting purposes. The English got the timber free and they cut down the trees, without doing any replanting, and that was the major cause that you had the trees destroyed.
Last year, when speaking here, I referred to the inferiority complex, and I tried to get it into the heads of anyone who heard me that it would be a very good thing for this country if we could get rid of the inferiority complex. Most of you have heard the story of the regiment that was marching along and of the old lady, who, referring to her son, who was in the regiment said to the neighbours: “The whole regiment is out of step except my Johnnie.” It does seem to me as if that is the attitude of the Department with regard to the growing of trees. In every other country of the world where growth is possible trees are grown, but here in this country, which has one of the most fruitful soils on earth, we cannot grow trees. Now, I am going to qualify that to a certain  extent and give a reason for it. Down in the South, during the war, trees were cut down all over the place, and the local reports are that when you ask, “Why do you not plant trees again there?” the Forestry Department says that you cannot grow trees there. Well, considering that they were grown there 20 or 24 years ago, it is astonishing that you cannot grow trees in the same place again. In Finland over 73 per cent. of the country is under forest. Now, I should not like to see 73 per cent. of our country under forest, and there would be a devil of a row about it, but in other countries, such as Sweden, Austria. Denmark, and so on, they have a very considerable acreage under trees, and they are continuing their forestry. I have been in Denmark three or four times, and it is largely made land there, and they are growing 900,000 acres of trees with half our territory —that is, of the whole of Ireland—and a little more than our population in the Twenty-Six Counties. Every other country in the world except ours realises the importance of timber, and it is very astonishing that we do not realise it. Anybody who does realise it is regarded as a bit of a crank.
On the 14th March of last year, 1938, the American President, President Roosevelt, sent a message to Congress. It must have been an important matter when he would send a long message to Congress. I have it here, if the Minister cares to see it. They have 615,000,000 acres of forest land there and the President considers that this method of destruction, to which Lord Lovat refers, is continuing to a certain extent and he wants to stop it, and for that purpose he sent the message to Congress. It is very important that our people should realise the value of timber, and I would like the Minister, if he would be so good, to bring some of his officials together and discuss the matter very fully and freely with me, because I think that, definitely, they are on the wrong lines.
I think I mentioned last year—or if I did not mention it I should have—that my principal concern is not so much  re-afforestation in itself as the employment which it will give, and I really do think that the Executive Council should take up this matter very seriously. I do not want to do anything that is not right. I want to do anything that is good for the country, and if re-afforestation, to any appreciable extent, is wrong then we should not have it; but if it is right, then we should have it. I think that the views held in the Department and also, unfortunately, by the Minister, who, in his turn, influences the Executive Council, are in the wrong direction, and I think there had better be a searching of hearts and that the whole matter should be discussed again very fully in order that something may be done in this matter, because it will be not alone a source of great employment but also a source of wealth. I think Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said that it would be a growing asset. He may not have used those exact words, but he did say that we would be laying up some wealth for ourselves. While the Department, perhaps, has not been to blame, by reason of the traditions which they cannot shed, I am going to suggest that they are not the proper body to carry on re-afforestation, and I would suggest very seriously to the House, if the House would agree with me, that this matter should be taken out of the hands of the Department altogether and put into the hands of a commission who would get the money from the House and would account to the House for the expenditure of the moneys, and that the Minister and his Department would have nothing to do with it. Under the German expert, who is a very competent man, that commission might do very good work. The German expert told me, in the presence of the Minister and the Taoiseach, that we had 500,000 acres for planting and he said, mark you, that that was not his final figure. There is no use saying that the land is not there. Of course, I know that there may be difficulties, such as the Minister referred to, in getting the people to give up the land, and I think Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred to their efforts to claim turbary rights on it when they probably had not any such  rights. After all, however, if this matter is of such importance that the country would benefit by it—and I am assuming that it is—then I say that the Government must take their courage in their hands and see that the people who are interfering with the rights of the majority in the country will not be permitted to do so.
Mr. Everett Mr. Everett
Mr. Everett: It is a good job that a Labour man did not suggest that.
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: Well, it is so. I read the other day where some people were arrested in Sligo for destroying a plantation and pulling down fencing, and as they were being carried to jail they shouted “Up, the republic.” Now, what the destruction of a plantation has to do with the republic I cannot see.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Perhaps it was the Ulster Plantation.
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: I said last year, and I say again now, that we want an agronomical survey of the whole country, because the Department does not know, and no one else knows, what land is available. Some people say there are 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 acres. Others say there is not so much. We do not know, but an agronomical survery would do a tremendous amount of good apart altogether from its afforestation value.
There should be a survey for the reclamation of shores, rivers and estuaries. Much land that is now valueless might be reclaimed and made very good land. I think there should be some attempt made to do that. Speaking on that point last year the Minister for Lands said it would take a lot of time. It would if he sent a cripple on the job. But it is a very important matter and the men put to do it should go at it energetically. In my view—and this may interest the Minister—there could be quite a lot of land inspected or surveyed with the help of one of his reliable men from the Forestry Department, assisted by some people who knew the territory.  They could go over it. I would not speak of this so much only because of the unemployment in the country and because I am interested in the welfare of the whole people. I trust the Minister will not take the remarks I have made amiss. So far as the officials and the Minister himself are concerned, I am trying to extenuate the conditions by saying that their method of working is traditional or tradition causes it.
Mr. Brasier Mr. Brasier
Mr. Brasier: From the speech made by Deputy Dowdall I take it that he must have collected a large amount of statistics. Though not a landowner himself he has shown a wide knowledge of forestry. I was rather sorry to hear him slate so unmercifully the officials of the Forestry Department. I think, having regard to their limited opportunities, they are doing their work well. They are doing their work so very well that they have insisted on acquiring land that might be suitable for agricultural purposes and rejecting land that might be suitable for forestry purposes. I join issue with the officials of the Department of Forestry on that particular point. I know they have insisted that it is necessary to get good land for forestry purposes. Perhaps they are right, if other land cannot be got. But one of their aims should be to utilise lands that are not suitable and that may not be remunerative for agriculture.
You have in this country a vast field for dealing with this particular problem of afforestation if the money is forthcoming. The money allowed is not large considering that they have to provide trees, labour, maintenance and, I might add, continual supervision until the ultimate financial results of that planting will be obtained, say in half a century. At any rate, there is one thing with which we have to find fault. That is their activities are not wide enough. Deputy Dowdall referred to the fact that some lands originally were planted that are not considered good enough now, in the estimation of the experts of the Department. Private enterprise carried that work through  in the past. Private enterprise spent money on that, and even though they obtained the trees and the labour more cheaply, at any rate it was done at their own expense, and the results prove that they were right. These people developed their estates at their own expense, and waited for the results to be obtained. That kind of work has been carried out in the County Cork in the case of the Colthurst estate beyond Macroom. The planting there was carried out very well and their system could be copied with profit by the Forestry Department. When the timber there was cut down the ground was allowed to lie idle for a year or two before it was planted again. That was all on poor land. Why is it not possible for the Forestry Department to acquire some of this land or land like it in Cork and on the great western areas where the land is not very rich and where large tracts of land could be obtained at very cheap rates? Land of that kind could by afforestation be turned into a very profitable proposition. That land is not suitable for agriculture. It is a waste of time for the Forestry Department to be seeking to acquire good land and leaving afforestation activities on the poorer lands to private enterprise. That is a problem that must be taken into consideration very seriously and dealt with.
There is another aspect of this case. The aim of the Department should be to plant poor lands. In this way they would ultimately create a great source of wealth in the country. Why not take up and plant some of those large estates where the timber has been cut down in recent years, and where there are large areas not productive for agriculture but certainly most productive for forestry operations? That is certainly a direction in which the Forestry Department could explore. They have the means of planting these lands.
I would suggest to the Minister that as he has already taken into consideration the subsidising of small areas for agriculturists, say four or five acres,  that he should carry on that work on a much larger scale where the lands are available. In these places the Department is subsidising the agriculturists for planting these small areas and keeping them fenced and protected. These schemes bid fair to become an economical proposition.
I have not read many books on forestry, nor is it necessary that I should do so for I have come in contact with very large areas of land where the owners are imploring the Forestry Department to take them over and they have refused to do so as their experts say that these lands are definitely unsuitable. Now a large proportion of these areas have in the past been found suitable. Surely, with our modern and greater knowledge, with our skilled experts in the Department, we should be able to bring to bear the knowledge that would enable us to devise means of dealing with these areas. At any rate, there is in this country—not alone in Cork but in every other area—a huge amount of land that the Department could explore and they have the means of dealing with it. While we pay a tribute to the Department officials where they have dealt with large areas of land and have done their work well, still because of the fact that their aim is to secure a quick return by planting trees on lands that would be suitable for agriculture, I have the feeling that their activities do not go far enough and that they are not in the right direction.
There are nurseries in the City of Cork where they produce young trees that are thoroughly reliable. I would look to the Forestry Department to take over these nurseries altogether and continue the work under strict supervision or else buy the trees that are growing there and plant them elsewhere. That is a particular part of the work of the Forestry Department to which I would direct the attention of the Minister. I think this nursery in Cork is held by the Cork County Council. Those who are experts say that the trees produced there are cheaper than those grown in the ordinary nurseries. Perhaps it would not be right that the Forestry Department  should compete with commercial nurseries, still if they can get these trees cheaper it would be an excellent thing. They could get a number of people into employment who are now drawing unemployment assistance. They could be put into active work there and even though they had been brought from a distance it would be better than to have the men idle. Surely this is work which should find favour with everybody in the country. It is work which a great number of people are crying out to have carried into operation. In the Forestry Department there is a vast field for employment.
Then, on the other hand, we have numbers of skilled men who were foresters on large estates. Owing to the dividing up of these estates these men are now out of work. I put this matter to one of the Forestry Department experts. I told him of one of these men who had long experience as a forester. He told me they could not take him on because the work was not available. Surely to goodness there is there a field for activity which is in the ordinary carrying out of public services. That is something that will bring you back money in the future and you are building up reserves that can be converted into capital in the next half-century. Surely there must be some results already from the Department's work which has been continued over a number of years. As regards the planting now being done, there are considerable areas available for planting on the Rosternan estate, near where I live myself, and in Clonmult. I have letter after letter from large landowners and people interested in this work complaining that the Forestry Department has refused to take over land which they considered suitable for planting simply because of the Department's obsession that they must plant only good land. If there is anything in our contention as to the importance of agriculture, surely we ought to retain that class of land in the hands of those able to work it agriculturally and let the Department devote the greater part of their time to turning over the poorer areas  and the more mountainous regions to the public service by tree-planting.
There are very large areas of cut-away bog open to the Department and they are not acquiring them. What has been found to be profitable in the past will be profitable in the future if the Department would only work things in the right way. These lands have been allowed to lie fallow for many years and are now fit for planting. Instead of granting unemployment assistance, you could provide a living wage for men on this work and single men could be conveyed from any part of the country to the places where the work was being carried on. If that were done, we should be proud of the results. Those who are to come will reap the benefit and the country will be the gainer. It is our duty to foster this particular enterprise. We may get enthusiasts like the last speaker who is obsessed with the idea of absorbing the unemployed but in every activity of government the ultimate object must be the carrying out of the particular work of the Department concerned. The planting of trees, which will be an asset in the future, is the ultimate object of this Department. If that work is taken up in earnest, with the necessary amount of money, we shall all be proud of the results. Reference has been made to Scandinavia, Switzerland, Denmark and other countries and there is not the smallest doubt about what these countries have done. We can follow suit. Since they have found it advisable to plant whatever land they have to spare from agriculture, surely it is our duty, when we have land lying idle and when offer after offer is made, to extend the operations of the Department.
Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
Mr. Corish: I look upon this as one of the most important Votes we are asked to pass but I am of opinion that the Forestry Department are not moving sufficiently fast. During the war years, this country was denuded of timber to provide pit-props for Wales and certain parts of England and we are not making any decent kind of progress to cope with the situation. Deputy Brasier has referred to the fact  that certain lands have been offered to the Department and that they have not taken advantage of these offers. I should like to know from the Minister what is the attitude of the Department to the Leigh estate at Rosgarland, County Wexford. It is good land, removed only a couple of hundred yards from the railway station and the centre of an area in which many persons are unemployed. So far as I know, it has been offered to the Department on two or three occasions and they have not taken advantage of the offer. I should like to know from the Minister what the position is. If he has not the information, perhaps he will go into the matter with the Department in an endeavour to have something done. Wexford is a county in which very little forestry work has been done. In other parts of the county, lands have been offered but very little progress has been made.
I should also like to refer to the position that prevails in the Carlow part of my constituency. There is forestry work proceeding in the vicinity of Graiguenamanagh and my information is that very few people in Borris or the surrounding district can get employment there at all, that people are sent in from the labour exchange in another county. I do not think that that is fair. I think that the people in the counties where the forestry station is situate should get first preference. In fact, I have heard complaints that men who are members of the Labour Party in the Borris area are deliberately kept out for that reason. That is the complaint I got— whether there is any truth in it or not, I do not know. It ought to be investigated. I am told that certain men have been kept out because they are prominent in Labour circles and that other men have been brought long distances although the men passed over had been doing forestry work in the past.
Under sub-head D (1), advances and grants are given to public authorities to the amount of £700. I should like to know how that money is applied. There is also a sum set aside for schools for the purpose of  tree-planting. I should like to know if technical institutes get any part of that money. It would be more important to give it to technical schools than to the ordinary national schools because, at the age at which boys and girls attend technical schools, they would be more susceptible to tuition regarding tree-planting than would children attending national schools. In certain technical schools in County Wexford I know that nothing has been done in that connection. I repeat that, in my opinion, the Forestry Department are not moving fast enough. There was a terrible lot of timber taken out of this country to be used as pit props on the other side and we are not doing anything to make up for the timber that was removed in that way.
Mr. Kennedy Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy: I agree with the last speaker that the Forestry Department are not moving quickly enough. A certain amount of forestry work has been done in my county. I think the biggest scheme they have done is the scheme on the Gradwell estate, in the north of the county. The work done there is excellent. The employment lasted over three years and it has changed a bleak, barren side of the country into a fine forestry belt. It is a mountain-side and the people with land around indicated about two years ago to the Forestry Department, through me, that they were willing to sell an amount of their land adjoining this forestry belt. I supplied the particulars to the Forestry Department. Forms were sent out to these people. They duly filled them in, and sent them to the Department, but since then nothing has been heard. I rang up the Forestry Department a year ago and they said the matter would be looked after. A year has elapsed and nothing has yet been done. The number of men employed at this particular work has dwindled practically to a maintenance party.
I want to draw the attention of the Department to the desirability of extending this work. I do not know how far co-operation exists between the Committees of Agriculture and the Forestry Department. I plead ignorance of the work of what is known  as a forest unit and I would like information on the point. On certain estates that are being divided there are acres of woods. I will instance one estate, the Palmer estate at Clonlost, County Westmeath. The Land Commission rightly handed over the wood on that estate to the Agricultural Committee. So far as I am aware, the committee did nothing with it since. Here let me congratulate the Land Commission because they did that. Heretofore what happened was that the belt of timber was usually given to the incoming occupier of the land and he felled all the trees, did away with the timber and did no replanting.
A lot of balderdash and rubbish has been talked from time to time about the destruction the landlords did to trees and forests. There is one tribute I will pay to them and it is the only tribute I will pay them. Only for them there would be no forestry at all. I want to congratulate the Land Commission in keeping these forest belts. Not many years ago when they were dividing estates they would hand over the bit of timber on the estate to the incoming tenant and he cut down all the trees and never replanted. I agree with the last speaker in saying that the Forestry Department are not going quickly enough.
I know that this year, on account of the bad year for turbary that we passed through, permits had to be given all over to people to cut timber in order to replace the turf. People are not very scrupulous about these things, and I know you cannot have a Civic Guard at every tree in every ditch and that timber is destroyed. I also know that in the early days of this State permits were got to sell timber belts and small forests and undertakings were given to replant, but these undertakings were never carried out. I would like to know from the Minister what machinery he has at his disposal to see that these undertakings are now carried out. I have one estate in mind. An English firm, during the past 18 months or two years, has been buying up all the ash in the Midlands and exporting it to one of the biggest saw-milling factories in the  world. I am led to believe that where all these purchases of ash have been made, undertakings have been given to replant. I am very doubtful about the fulfilment of these undertakings and I would like to know what machinery has the Minister at his disposal to see that these undertakings are being carried out. There is a lot of leeway to be made up in replacing the woods of this country.
When I spoke on this Vote two years ago I criticised the schemes in schools. I remember when the new hospital was opened in Mullingar about four or five years ago and in the month of April, in order to add to its beauty, they planted a lot of trees in front of the hospital. Not one of them grew. That same year, outside a number of schools trees were planted in the month of April. In the few cases of which I know, not one of the trees grew. I always saw tree planting carried out in November and December. I always saw the Arbour Day in November. I spoke to certain people and their advice was that April and the end of March were the best months. I know this much about horticulture, that if you take up a shrub or bush once March comes in, whether it is raining or not, if you leave the roots exposed for 48 hours, the shrub or bush will die. The air is naturally dry and it will dry up everything before it. On the particular estate I referred to I have seen thousands of young trees going down at the end of March and they put them in mud and did everything with them to save them but, because they could not get them in quickly enough, these trees died. The Forestry Department should have sufficient experience now, with the young foresters coming out of the training school in Wicklow, to concentrate on their work in the months in which we were always led to believe tree planting should be carried out. The months in which every country in the northern hemisphere carries out forestry operations are November, December and January. With the experience that they have gained, there should be a speeding up of the work. Where land has been placed at the disposal of the Forestry Department, as  has been done in the case of the land adjoining the Gradwell estate, the work should be expedited. I imagine, too, that where a forestry unit is established, and where the proper co-ordination between the Committee of Agriculture and that unit is in operation, it will be possible to take up small areas of land and go on with the planting there. That is all I have to say on this Vote.
Mr. Linehan Mr. Linehan
Mr. Linehan: I am very much afraid that this debate on forestry is regarded by the Department as an annual affair in which everybody regrets that more is not being done, and that the Department are inclined, as Deputy Dowdall said, to regard the people who deal with forestry as a big problem—and it is a very big item in national finance and national development—as being rather cranks. Deputy Dowdall referred to the story of the one soldier who was in step, but I was very glad to notice that, while for a long time Deputy Dowdall was the only soldier in step in the Fianna Fáil group as regards forestry, he seems to have got a number more into step now, which is a very good thing. As far as I can see, when this debate on forestry turns up every year everybody says that the activities of the Department should be extended—that more work should be done. Actually it seems to me that there is pretty much the same Vote every year—this year it is £196,000—and that there is no real effort being made, or no real consideration being given to the ultimate value of forestry to this country.
First of all, there is not an area in this country, particularly in the South-West, that has not been denuded of trees in the last 25 years. In the western end of my constituency I know of only one case where the Department of Forestry endeavoured to acquire lands for forestry purposes, and the land that they sought to acquire in that case was an ordinary farm holding. For 20 miles on either side of that farm holding you have the Bogheragh range of mountains, 75 per cent. of which were under timber within the past 30 years. A lot of timber in that  range was cut down during the Great War. There are parts within a mile of the town where I live where at least 70 acres of timber were completely cleaned out during the Great War, and where one bush has not been planted ever since. There is another long range extending for about five miles, where there was a very fine wood, and that wood was burned by the Black and Tans as a reprisal for the Rathcoole ambush. But when the Department went to investigate the practicability of reafforestation in that portion of Cork they picked out a farm. They negotiated with the owner, and offered him a price which was about one-fifth of what he would get in the open market, while they had a stretch of 20 miles from Mallow to the Kerry border which within the past 30 years had been growing timber, and which could certainly grow timber again. They entirely ignored it. Apart altogether from the question, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney put it, of the ultimate capital value of reafforestation to the country, that line of hills from the Kerry border to Mallow protects the whole plain of the River Blackwater, from the west and south-west, from the prevailing winds. If the Department were serious about reafforestation, and took it into their heads to investigate that particular area, I am sure they would very quickly discover there thousands of acres of land which would grow timber. If timber were planted on that particular mountain side, it would be of very great benefit to the area from the shelter point of view alone, apart altogether from the capital value in the future.
Secondly, I myself believe that it would be of very great value to the community if reafforestation were looked upon from the point of view of the employment it would give. I do not think there is anybody in the House who would wish to refuse the money which would be required for the giving of employment through the means of forestry. I do not believe there is any area in the South or West of Ireland in which money could not be usefully expended for forestry purposes, but I do not believe for a moment, if the Department merely continue tinkering  at the subject at the rate they have been doing, that forestry will develop into anything in this country. I believe that the Department can hardly be serious about reafforestation at all when I think of the way in which they have dealt with areas like the one to which I have referred. As I say, if they are going to come into an area where there are thousands of acres of land available for planting purposes, and pick one or two small farms, it does not look as if the thing is seriously meant at all, although it will probably give enough encouragement to the local people to hope that forestry will be tackled in that area sooner or later.
I would invite the Minister, if he ever comes as far south as that, to get into a car at Mallow, drive slowly from Mallow to the Kerry border, and look at the line of hills, running from east to west, south of the River Blackwater there. He can bring any experts he wishes, and I defy the Minister and his experts to tell anybody that that land would not be suitable and is not available for planting purposes. As far as employment is concerned, the Minister would not have the slightest difficulty in getting all the workers he wants in that area to carry out the work. I think the Department are only tinkering with the problem. They come into an area, overlook the land which is available for forestry purposes, pick out a farm of arable land, and then forget all about it. I assure the Minister that, if he thinks he is going to get arable land in North Cork—while ignoring the land which would be suitable for planting—at the price which he offered for this particular farm, he is very much mistaken. He will want much more money than there is in the Vote to buy arable land and plant shelter-belts there. I would ask the Minister quite seriously to investigate the position in that area. I would ask him to have the area surveyed, where the timber was taken off during the Great War, and where the timber was burned by the Black and Tans in 1921 as a reprisal for the Rathcoole ambush. There are at least nine or ten miles where timber was cut off or  burned. That is absolutely naked at the moment. If the Minister investigates the matter, he will find that land suitable for planting.
Mr. J.P. Kelly Mr. J.P. Kelly
Mr. J.P. Kelly: When the Minister introduced his Estimate 12 months ago he mentioned that there were two counties which had no afforestation scheme. This year he mentioned that there is only one county which has not an afforestation scheme, and I am in the unfortunate position of being one of the representatives of that county. It has become a Cinderella as far as the Forestry Department is concerned, and I have no desire that it should remain so. Therefore, I appeal to the Minister to use his influence with the Forestry Department to enable us to take our place with the other counties, which, no matter what complaints they may have here this evening as to the progress made by the Forestry Department, can at least say that they have one scheme. Now, 85,000 acres have been planted under the various schemes which have been carried out by the Forestry Department. I cannot understand why they have not put a scheme into operation in County Meath. On various occasions we have brought to their notice estates that we think would be suitable for planting. We have also made representations in reference to lands that were offered voluntarily by the owners. That is a very important matter, seeing that the Minister has complained that they were unable to obtain sufficient land voluntarily. This land is unsuitable for tillage purposes and for the grazing of cattle. Though it is unproductive so far as agricultural purposes generally are concerned, I believe that it is suitable for the growing of timber. I should like to know if during the last 12 months any investigation has been carried out in connection with those estates with a view to acquisition so that afforestation could be carried out at a later date.
In County Meath we require afforestation for a twofold purpose. The first is for the relief of unemployment. Naturally, where land is not of the best we have a certain amount of unemployment.  We also require it to provide raw material for our furniture and saw-milling industries. In Meath we have a number of very flourishing industries for which timber is required, and I think that is a matter which calls for the special attention of the Minister and the Forestry Department. If it be true that timber is being cut down and exported out of this country, it surely demands the immediate attention of the Minister to ensure that no timber should leave the Midlands while native industries are calling out for raw material. Our furniture and other timber industries will be seriously handicapped in the near future if there is not ample raw material available locally.
This matter of the transport of raw material to our industries is one of the greatest importance. It is because we believe that there should be an ample supply of raw material available locally for our industries that we appeal to the Minister to ensure that as far as possible this raw material will be kept at home and that no export will be allowed. It is quite reasonable to assume that an essential adjunct to the success of the furniture industry is a constant local supply of raw material. Each county should have its own afforestation scheme, and especially where industries are calling out for raw material they should have a very special claim on the attention of the Forestry Department.
We have the position at present that our hedge timber is being cut down. Along the roadsides you will also find that timber is being cut down. So far as the roadside timber is concerned, perhaps that is beneficial if it is dangerous in storms to passing cars and pedestrians. But the timber that grows in our hedges and that beautifies our countryside should not be cut down unless replanting is guaranteed. Not alone should it be guaranteed, but it should be insisted upon by the Department that two trees should be planted for every one cut down. Our woods are also being denuded of timber. In my constituency I have not seen any new trees being planted. I should like  to know from the Minister what are the intentions of the Forestry Department in connection with the planting of trees in County Meath; if it is their intention to take over any land; if they have carried out any investigations and have come to any decision as to what they are going to do in County Meath. The Minister anticipates a big increase in afforestation this year. He told us that seven new schemes were put into operation last year. All I ask is that County Meath should be included in any new schemes. I would be inclined to imagine that County Meath is not on the map which hangs in the Forestry Department in Upper Merrion Street.
There is another matter on which I should like the opinion of the Department. It is in connection with another type of land which has been offered to the Department in my county—what is known as cut-away bogland. I know that experts who have investigated this problem of cut-away bogs and bogland have decided that such land is not suitable for growing timber. But we have the experience of men who were born in these districts and whose forefathers lived there, and they point out that plantations have been very successful on these cut-away bogs. If they have been successful on a small scale with their plantations, they ask, why should not the Department be able to carry out larger schemes successfully? The Department, of course, have the advice of the experts, but we have the experience of the local people. We are told, of course, that doctors differ —but here I think there is room for experts to differ. If the matter were properly investigated, I think the Minister would be satisfied that there was a reasonable chance of success. I would be glad to know if the Forestry Department have carried out any further experiments with such soil with a view to finding out if it could be made suitable for growing of this timber and if any further research is being made into the possibilities of that. It might be possible to have some chemical treatment to supply whatever the soil is deficient in at present. My main reason for speaking this evening was to appeal to the Minister not to  allow the position to continue by which County Meath is the only county of the Twenty-Six that has no afforestation scheme. We do not wish to remain in that position, and I appeal to the Minister, in all earnestness, on behalf of the people who are anxiously awaiting the starting of afforestation, even on a small scale, in my county, to give the matter his very sympathetic consideration.
Mr. Everett Mr. Everett
Mr. Everett: I may be the one Deputy in the House to congratulate the Minister on the work he has accomplished in County Wicklow, at any rate. I do not claim to be an expert or to have read books on this question or studied the matter, but I have some experience of the work that is being carried on in my constituency, and I sympathise with the Minister in listening to the appeals that have been made by some members of his own Party, and I can congratulate our own Party, the Labour Party, that we have not advocated the compulsory acquisition of land for afforestation at the price that the Forestry Department only allows to the farmer. I can assure Deputy Dowdall that if he were to advocate, even down in Cork, that the Minister should compulsorily acquire arable land at less than £2 an acre, which is what the Forestry Department may only give, the farmers would have another say, quite different from what they have been talking in another direction. I do not think he will get the support of any reasonableminded Deputy in the House in his advocacy of the compulsory acquisition of arable land at the figure the Department allows.
I heard here to-day that the Forestry Department are acquiring arable land. I am not aware of that taking place in County Wicklow. First of all, before they can acquire land, the Land Commission themselves must be satisfied that the land is suitable only for afforestation, and I am surprised that there would be anything like that. I know of cases where certain hills and other places in County Wicklow have been acquired, and if  some of the Deputies were conveniently close to the graziers, who had always had the grazing rights of these hills, they would find it interesting to hear the remarks they make about the Minister and the Goverment for depriving them of these grazing rights. They are not so much enamoured there of afforestation because they have been deprived of the grazing rights. Now, we have Fianna Fáil Deputies, or Government Deputies, demanding that more land should be divided for the landless men and the small farmers, but if you are going to acquire all the land for afforestation purposes, how will you meet the claims of the landless men and uneconomic holders in the country? I am glad to say that a large number of men are in employment as a result of what the Minister has been doing, and I would appeal to him to continue that employment for a longer period in the year. We have a large number of men taken on from November until March, and I suggest that a large number of men could find employment in the cleaning up of the plantations and trees during the summer months instead of having to remain on the unemployed list or being dismissed. There is plenty of employment on plantations for men in cleaning up the shrubberies and dealing with afforestation generally. The matter of surplus trees has been raised, and I suggest that where surplus trees are available if the board of health were communicated with they would find means of distributing the surplus trees among the cottagers who have been provided with cottages in County Wicklow or if they got in touch with the Agricultural Department I am sure that they would co-operate in every possible way with the Minister. Many people have not taken advantage of the £4 per acre, but I think the conditions are that you must take an acre of land. Well, in many cases the owner of a small farm may not want to provide an acre of his own land, and I think that where you would have three or four farms adjoining each other it might be possible to arrange with them in that way.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
 Mr. Boland: So long as it is the five acres, it would be all right if they were adjoining each other.
Mr. Everett Mr. Everett
Mr. Everett: Well, I know that locally they would assist the Department in every way if that could be done. I do not see how you can secure the various things we would all like to secure for the money that is available to the Department. We would all like to secure various other things, but we must bear in mind the amount of money that is available. I would also appeal to the Minister to extend the holidays-with-pay provisions to those men who are in constant employment, the permanent men, who have given good and loyal service. I hold that they are entitled to that, just the same as people in other industries. We see where in other parts of Ireland the agricultural labourers have now obtained holidays with pay, and the least that should be given to the permanent forestry workers, who have given good and loyal service, is to give them also holidays with pay.
Now, I should like to say that there is no necessity for Deputies to be bringing forward small complaints here. I have received numerous complaints from time to time and I have gone into the Department or to the Minister and have received every assistance, and the complaints were adjusted. In some cases they went through, and in other cases, where perhaps they were not fully justified, they were corrected. In that way things were settled and as a result, where we have a very large number of men given employment, these complaints were settled and they certainly would not have been settled by speeches in this House. I, for one, am very glad to be in the position of being able to congratulate the Minister and his Department on the good work they have been doing in my constituency, and I would ask other Deputies to realise the difficulties of acquiring land and also the complaints one gets from certain people because they do not get the benefit of the grazing rights of such land as is acquired. For these reasons, I ask the Minister to continue the work and he  will receive congratulations from the Deputies of my constituency at any rate.
Mr. Dowdall Mr. Dowdall
Mr. Dowdall: I should like to correct Deputy Everett's inference that I advocated the acquisition of arable land. I did not.
Mr. McMenamin Mr. McMenamin
Mr. McMenamin: I feel somewhat perplexed in rising to speak on this Vote. I think there are certain things on which there should be agreement first, and then we would be able pretty well to get this matter into perspective and know where we stood. Some people seem to claim that nothing at all has been done and that there are hundreds of thousands of acres that can be secured for planting that are not being acquired. Let us suppose that there was approximate agreement in the Department, or amongst the heads of the Department, that there are 200,000 acres available for forestry in this country. I should like the Minister to tell the House whether there are 200,000 acres of plantable land that can be acquired right away, about which there is no doubt of its quality for the production of timber of some kind. If the Minister would get up boldly and state that, we could then reduce the problem down to the net question: What is the earliest period in which you could get that land planted and how would you plant it? Let us assume that the Minister and the House were in agreement on the fact that it was necessary to get 200,000 acres of State forest. If we could get that work completed, having it completed, we could then enter upon a second phase; that is, to experiment as to other lands that at first were not found suitable for planting but that probably, with drainage and experiments with fertilisers, could be developed for planting. In other words, under that category, you would have the second and third-class land that would produce, perhaps, a poorer class of timber, but timber that yet, for some purposes, or perhaps for many purposes, would be useful. There is a great conflict of opinion on this matter of what land will grow timber and what will not. We are told that at a height of approximately anything over  1,200 feet above sea level you cannot grow timber successfully. I wonder would the Minister agree that that is so? Secondly, there is a lot to be said, in my opinion, for Deputy Dowdall's statement in respect of a general survey in this matter. There are large tracts of semi-barren land along the sides of the hills in this country, particularly in a county like my own, which is otherwise beautiful, and when you come to certain periods of the year they look desperately wretched and barren because they are windswept and have not a tree growing on them. From the point of view of scenery alone, apart from the question of national wealth, there is agreement that forestry work has a large labour content and for that reason is very suitable for provision of employment. In County Donegal and other counties there are large tracts of bog. When one refers to “high bog,” some people might think that it was situated on the side of a hill, but the reference is really to the depth of the bog. A bog sometimes reaches such depth that it lacks the mineral qualities for growing timber. Is it possible that, with the application of some fertiliser, bog of that description could be made to grow timber? Deputy Kelly has said that experts have advised that cut-away bog will not grow timber, I do not think that experts hold that view. Experts are, I think, of opinion that cut-away bog is suitable for timber growing. I know tracts of land, having a shallow covering of bog, that would, in my opinion, be suitable for timber-growing, assuming that they have the necessary mineral qualities. However, one has to be an expert to pronounce on that matter. When the landlords were bought out in Donegal —and many of them were bought out under the Ashbourne and Wyndham Acts—the plantations in connection with the estates were cut down and destroyed. The Department have stepped in, in a number of cases, and are having them replanted. At present, they look bare and it would seem as if nothing had been done. It will take from ten to 15 years before results will become apparent. I should like the  Minister to turn his eye to that windswept county in the north-west— Donegal—and ask the officials to do their utmost to get the land available into production.
A number of items on this Vote are to be regretted. Everybody here is shouting for plantations. There are about 400,000 farmers in the country and every member of the House would willingly give any sum required to assist farmers to put down shelter belts. Under that sub-head this year, the gross estimate is £700. Is not that a commentary on a country that is destitute of timber even for scenic purposes? The Minister made a reference to Arbor Day. I join with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney in saying that the planting of forest trees around a school is ridiculous. These trees will grow up against the school windows and what is wanted in the schools are light and sunshine. The Department should have drafted a number of pamphlets for distribution among school children. These pamphlets would inculcate knowledge as to the value of trees, from the point of view of national economy, the beauty of the country and the improvement of the climate.
I do not like to be too critical of the work done in my own county. I appreciate that equitable rights exist over tracts of the land in question and that these rights raise many difficulties. I am not going to ignore these difficulties. I know that they are holding up work, perhaps in districts where people are clamouring for afforestation. I raised in previous years the question as to what is being done about game in adjoining land when large mountain tracts are taken over. Are the foresters or caretakers taking steps to keep the planted area clear of vermin that would otherwise destroy game in the surrounding lands? If we are going to spend £600,000, plus a sum of £45,000 per annum, on the development of tourist traffic, it is important to keep in mind the value of shooting rights in regard to game. The Minister has admitted that there is land in hand available for planting and that out of the area available only 7,000 acres were planted last year. I think that Deputies are justified in complaining in that  regard. As regards this deep bog, perhaps the Minister would say definitely whether, according to the advice he has got, this bog can be used for the planting of timber or not? I shall go into the question of the huge mountain-sides in Donegal with the Department, as it will be more suitable to deal with the matter in that way. I join with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney in asking if the Minister is taking the long view as to the timber requirements of this State—the class of timber we should require in case of war, soft wood and hard wood as distinguished from wood pulp for house building and furniture-making. I do not want to be too critical, as one would be disposed to be, having regard to what is being done in County Donegal. I appreciate the difficulties and I know that steps are being taken to get afforestation going in certain places there. I should like to see a faster pace. That is the only complaint I have to make and I hope that the tracts the Department have inspected will be found suitable.
Mr. Hurley Mr. Hurley
Mr. Hurley: This question of afforestation is a very important one. The reafforestation, if I may use the term, of this country must depend on a State Department. The attempts that are made by private individuals will in no way solve the problem of reafforestation in this country. We have listened to the various suggestions about the slowness of the Department. There is definitely an amount of slowness in the policy of the Department despite what Deputy Everett says.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: Is there a split in the Labour Party?
Mr. Hurley Mr. Hurley
Mr. Hurley: There may be progress in afforestation in Wicklow. But that is not the point I want to emphasise. It is that this kind of haphazard fashion dealing with afforestation is not good enough. Several Deputies have raised the point that there should be some definite survey of the country as a whole to find out what land is suitable. I do not know what is the present procedure in the Forestry Department with regard to the acquiring of land. Has the farmer to write  up to the Department, ask them to come along and take over his land or is there any kind of local survey with regard to the needs of the district? The reason I ask that is there is a scheme in my constituency in Lisgoold. I initiated that in 1937. The farmers there came to me. They were prepared to put up the rough portion of their holdings. After a great deal of work in pushing it through that scheme has been got going this year. But there are thousands of acres in other parts of my constituency which the farmers are anxious to have taken over by the Forestry Department. Would the Minister say what is the procedure to be adopted? I am prepared to submit the names of the farmers to the Department of Forestry. But all this thing takes a long time. Much time is wasted in preliminaries, so much so that some of the schemes are lost in the maze of the preliminaries. Would the Minister tell us what is the reason for all this slowness in his Department?
I notice that there is a deficiency of £10,000 in the Estimate that was put up this time 12 months. Can the Minister definitely say what was the cause of that deficiency or are we to have that same deficiency again next year? The whole thing is so ill-planned that there seems to be no system with regard to the taking over and with regard to the speed with which a particular area is to be planted. There is nothing like a planned system with regard to these things. Probably the slowness is due to the want of a sufficiency of a trained staff. The Minister probably will be able to tell us when that deficiency will be rectified. I can visualise that the personnel of the trained staff may not be sufficient to deal with the requirements of the Department or with the land available. But there must be some reason and I think the House is entitled to know what is the reason for this slow progress in the Forestry Department. I have already given my own experience. There are other parts of my constituency where lands are available, but I am rather hesitant in putting up the names of people to the Department because the thing is so wearisome that one gets  tired of pushing them and asking and inquiring, to be told at the end: “Yes, we are attending to it; this will be done next week or next year,” and then when next year comes we get the same answer again. If there is any proper kind of system in the Department this sort of thing would not happen. We are told that there is a great scarcity of money to deal with the problem on big national lines. If the Government looked around there are ways in which the money could be got for this very important national question.
There is a minor matter to which I should like to refer. The Dinan estate in Castlemartyr was divided up recently. There were 16 acres of wood and shrubbery left over to be allotted as a public park for the village of Castlemartyr. There was a purchase price of £52 demanded for those 16 acres. Then there is to be nominal rent of something every year. There is no urban or public authority in Castlemartyr for taking over such a place as a park and utilising it as a shrubbery. What I suggest to the Department is that about three miles away there is a plantation at Glenbower where there are three foresters employed. It may be possible for the Department to run that Dinan estate shrubbery with the help of one man from Glenbower. That is a small matter, but I just wanted to mention it.
I have tried to calculate from the Estimate the number of trained foresters in the Department. I make out the number to be 63. I do not know if that figure is quite correct. Now, if that number is not sufficient —and probably that may be the reason for the slow procedure with regard to the taking over and commencing forestry operations in particular areas—I would like to know from the Minister how soon will that number be augmented and to what extent it will be augmented, because that is perhaps the reason why the Department is so slow in its methods? There is, of course, the problem that Deputy Dowdall mentioned, the tradition of years of easy-going methods in the Department. I think the Minister  will be very well advised to get a stir on in the Forestry Department. There are thousands of acres of land avail able. I can secure 1,800 acres of land suitable for planting in my constituency and I can give the names and particulars to the Minister if the Minister can guarantee that within a reasonable time work will be started on those lands. With these few words, I would strongly urge the Minister to insist on a little more speed in the work of his Department.
Mr. J. Flynn Mr. J. Flynn
Mr. J. Flynn: The Minister referred to certain difficulties in connection with the acquisition of lands for afforestation purposes. I have already suggested that officials of the Land Commission, acting in co-operation with officials of the Forestry Department, should visit an area with a view to having a scheme completed; in other words, to have all the agreements and all the preliminaries carried through at the earliest possible date. We have found that type of arrangement fairly effective. There is one scheme that the Minister is well aware of, and that is the scheme known as the Caragh Lake, Glencar and Glenbligh scheme. The only obstruction there is in relation to agreement. We have there some of the little disagreements and difficulties that the Minister referred to in his opening statement, namely, the grazing rights of the mountain farmers concerned. I think that if the matter were reconsidered the little difficulties with those people might be surmounted. This matter has been hanging fire for almost two years and it is about time that the Forestry Department got down to business and put the scheme through.
Deputy Dowdall referred to units or county schemes. I would make the suggestion that the Forestry Department should co-operate with the horticulturists acting for the Committee of Agriculture in each county. In that way you might have local units and the horticulturist, with his local knowledge and suggestions, would be very helpful. You might in that manner be able to reorganise the whole country, in so far as afforestation is concerned. I think that suggestion could be acted  upon. The Department of Agriculture also could co-operate. You might have a man from the Forestry Department acting directly under the Department, or you could give him instructions to work in with whatever schemes are suggested by the local horticulturist. That would be an incentive to progress and would enable the officials of the Department to have first-hand information in regard to schemes in any district in which you would be interested and from which the people would apply for development in the matter of afforestation.
This point about land not being suitable for forestry purposes has been referred to for a number of years. I have grave doubts that the matter has ever been treated sympathetically by the Forestry Department. I will give you a case in point, and I think I mentioned this before. I refer to the Caragh Lake, Glencar and Glenbeigh scheme. The land in that area some years ago was rejected by experts from the Department, and it was only when the new director of afforestation visited these areas, inspected these lands and re-examined the position, that they were approved as suitable for afforestation. I make that point to show that there was only a casual inspection of these lands originally and heretofore the inspectors from the Department went down through the country with their minds made up that these lands would not come within their scheme of development. I think something of the same mentality obtains to the present day in regard to various mountain areas and bog land and reclaimed land.
Would it not be possible for the Department, under a well-planned development scheme, to grade these lands, leaving the better-class lands for timber of high commercial value and the lands of poor quality for the growing of timber for pulp and shelterbelts and that type of development? I suggest that a well-planned scheme could take in all the different phases of afforestation applicable to the different types of soil in various areas throughout the country. The areas  referred to by Deputy McMenamin, the wind-swept areas on the Donegal coast, would be analogous to the areas in South Kerry, covering a belt from Kenmare to Cahirciveen. All that coast line could, under a well-planned system, be developed in the way I have suggested. I should like the Minister to consider future development from that aspect.
The whole question in so far as Kerry is concerned has been left over. The scheme in operation adjacent to Kenmare and a few other little areas is of no account in comparison with the thousands of acres that are available. It is about time that the Department would recast their whole system with a view to meeting the demands of the people for forestry development. I should like again to refer to local units, parish committees if you like, which could work in with inspectors from the Department and representatives from the agricultural committees. With little extra cost you could have that type of organisation carried through. It would be invaluable in the matter of planning different schemes. Most important of all, it would be useful in getting the people to work in with suggestions, in accommodating you, and giving you facilities in so far as certain rights and amenities are concerned, thereby enabling you to go full steam ahead with your planning of afforestation schemes.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: They used to burn witches in Salem, and, sometimes, when I hear people like Deputy John Flynn of Kerry talking about planting trees on the wind-swept slopes of South Kerry, and assigning, as the reason for not having done that, the obscurantist obstinacy of the officials of the Department of Forestry, I begin to ask myself how long is it until they start burning witches in Kerry. When the cow did not calve in Salem you went out and got the plainest old lady you could find in the parish, denounced her as a witch and burned her. I do not know whether Deputy Flynn intends to search the Department of Forestry for the plainest man there and burn him. Has it ever occurred to him and to other Deputies that in the case of persons  whose careers and lives are associated with promoting forestry, and whose success is asociated with the extent of the work that can be done, it is hardly likely that they are in a dreadful and dark conspiracy to prevent trees growing in Ireland. I remember the time when every shortcoming of the Fianna Fáil Government used to be assigned to the conspiracy of the public servants to undo them. I remember eloquent speakers from the front bench of the Fianna Fáil Party announcing that they were going to put an end to those dark conspiracies, and I have perceived the education of the front bench of the Fianna Fáil Party proceeding until, eventually, the members on the front bench got up and said that they were sick listening to “ballyhoo”: that they had been looking for conspiracies since they had come into office, that they could not find them, and that they had come to the conclusion that the reason they could not find them was not their own stupidity but that they did not exist, The education is proceeding slowly. It has got to about the third bench of the Fianna Fáil Party, but I notice that Deputy John Flynn has retired to the back bench, and the education has, apparently, not reached that far yet.
I know very little about forestry, but I try to fill up the large gaps in that chapter of my information by discussing it with those who do know something about forestry, and I am told that if there is one place where you cannot economically grow timber it is on a wind-swept slope in South Kerry or anywhere else. Anyone who has travelled the world ought to be able to see that. Any slope which is swept by ocean storms will produce nothing but stunted scrub, because when the tree is half-grown the pressure of wind upon it bends the twig, and as the twig is bent so the tree shall grow. That is an old proverb which our grandmothers used when they took the stick to ourselves. They used to assure us that if they did not straighten the twig when we were young we would grow crooked in our old age, and they proceeded to straighten us by a judicious application  of an appropriate piece of timber. They drew that analogy from the common knowledge of humanity since the dawn of time, that if you plant a tree in front of a gale, as the twig is bent so shall the tree grow. We are not growing Harry Lauder's walking sticks in this country, and it would not be a profitable occupation if we tried to do it. There is only one very small group of Scotch comedians who use twisted walking sticks on the stage, and that market is not sufficient to consume the products of the forests which Deputy Flynn, of Kerry, has in mind.
I take it that we all, if it were feasible, would like to grow economic timber in this country for the dual purpose of making economic use of land that could not otherwise be profitably used, and to protect the land against denudation by wind for the want of water. I understand that trees act in retaining moisture in the soil, and protecting the arable land adjacent to them from being denuded by wind. But the question is how best can we do it? I believe that I planted constructively more trees than any Deputy in this House, and yet I did not put my hand to a spade in order to plant a tree. They say that a penny saved is a penny earned, and I submit that a tree saved is a tree produced. There are two classes of trees. There is the deciduous hard-wood tree, and there is the conifer. The deciduous, hard-wood tree is the slow-growing tree, the difficult tree to produce; the conifer is the easy one to produce. All of us know that throughout this country at the present moment hundreds of thousands of deciduous trees which have taken 30 or 40 years to grow are being strangled by ivy, and I bet that Deputy John Flynn of Kerry, has never in his whole life bothered to go out and get a hatchet and cut the ivy off any tree he saw. If he devoted his week-ends to that occupation he would be responsible for preserving more trees than by all the speeches he could make in Dáil Eireann.
Mr. J. Flynn Mr. J. Flynn
Mr. J. Flynn: I always knew the Deputy was a comedian.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
 Mr. Dillon: It is something to be useful even at that. I put it to the Minister that there is one branch of forestry work that is grotesquely neglected, and that could be really advantageously promoted at once, and promoted through the national schools, if the children were taught that wherever they saw ivy growing on a tree it would be useful to cut the ivy, or, even better, to uproot it. If we got that doctrine widespread throughout the country we could save thousands of deciduous trees every year. I do not think any Deputy will challenge that. We are all familiar with the ash, and indeed the oak and the beech tree, the branches of which are stripped of leaves, and the tree manifestly dies because it is being strangled by an abundant growth of ivy. That process could be at once arrested if the stem of the ivy were cut at the base, and the matter could be further followed by rooting out the ivy from the immediate vicinity of the tree. I submit to the Minister that that would be one of the most useful forestry activities that we could possibly carry out through the medium of the schools.
They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, but if you do roll about the world you pick up information. I heard Deputy John Flynn of Kerry advocating that those people who are blocking forestry by claiming their grazing rights on mountains have had enough patience shown to them; that steps should be taken now to cut that Gordian knot, to clear those right away, and get on with the planting. I heard exactly the same argument in Colorado 15 years ago. There we had the cattle ranches of the plains backed by the range of Rocky Mountains, and Draconian gentlemen like Deputy John Flynn wanted to enclose the mountain range as national parks. The ranchers objected, and eventually the Draconian gentlemen said: “This Gordian knot should be cut. We should close the ranges and talk to the ranchers afterwards.” I am just telling this little story as a kind of warning to Deputy John Flynn, because all the Draconians were put out by the ranchers at the next election. Deputy John Flynn  might brood over that in the next week or fortnight. The ranchers had an un answerable case, because their submission was: “We took those ranches on lease from the Government or on purchase from the Government on the understanding that we had the range behind them. If you deny us our grazing rights on the range, our ranches all become uneconomic. Our ranches are economic only provided we have the summer feed on the range. If we have to feed our cattle summer and winter on the ranch the ranch ceases to be economic.” Is not the same case true about certain farms in Kerry and Donegal? If you take the grazing right from certain small farmers in those areas they will have to leave their farms, because their farms are no longer an economic unit. They depend partially for their existence on the right to graze sheep. Even Deputy John Flynn, I suppose, has heard of Sir Thomas More.
Mr. J. Flynn Mr. J. Flynn
Mr. J. Flynn: You misrepresent what I said. It is an old gag of yours.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: He will remember that Sir Thomas More, looking out on the fields of England, deplored the fact that sheep were eating men. Are we to advocate in these circumstances that trees should eat men? I do not think we should. I think that if we have to choose between men and timber, we should choose men deliberately. Again, I want to remind the House that I know very little about forestry, but that I try to repair that ignorance by discussion with those who do. I have been told by people who do know something about forestry that any land in which you can bring economic timber to maturity is land capable of reclamation for agricultural purposes. There are few men in this House who know less about forestry than I do, but I suppose the Minister is one of them. He, I have no doubt, has the same measure of wisdom that I have, and he will go and consult somebody who does know something about it. When he does go to consult them I ask him to put to them that net question: Is it true that any land upon which we can raise  economic timber to maturity is capable of reclamation for agricultural purposes? That, I believe, is the kernel of our difficulty; that we have with us the perennial problem of the congested tenants and the supreme difficulty of getting land to abolish congestion. When that land becomes available, are we to divide it amongst the small farmers of South Kerry or are we to accept Deputy John Flynn's suggestion to put it under trees? I think that if Deputy John Flynn were talking in Kerry he would advocate dividing it amongst the small farmers of Kerry. I will never ask for a vote in Kerry. So let nobody imagine that I am bidding for them.
Mr. Flynn Mr. Flynn
Mr. Flynn: You would not get it.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I say that if this land is there and is capable of reclamation or capable of afforestation, I am in favour of giving it to Deputy John Flynn's abandoned constituents, the small farmers of South Kerry. I dare Deputy John Flynn to go down to South Kerry and advocate there that that land should be planted with trees and not distributed amongst the small farmers in South Kerry. What bores me is to be listening to Deputy John Flynn clamouring here to have this land planted, and to be reading of Deputy John Flynn howling in South Kerry to have it distributed amongst the small farmers. You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds; you must want one thing or the other. So long as there are congested tenants, so long as there are congested areas, I want any arable land available devoted to reducing the measure of their congestion. I think the Minister will want that too, and I believe that any responsible person in in the country will want it.
What is the way out of that? Deputy Dowdall has faded away. What is Deputy Dowdall's way out of that dilemma? Will he give the land to men or to trees? I wish we had land for both. But what is the use of stating a dilemma if you are not prepared to advocate a way out of it? Nobody is more rejoiced than I am to see the  back benchers of Fianna Fáil jumping on their own Minister—it is very good for him. But when they do jump on him I wish they wore nailed boots and not carpet slippers. Using “tomfool” arguments, like some we heard to-day, is like wearing ill-fitting carpet slippers. There is a way out of this. This controversy can be resolved. Could not the Minister say to Deputy Dowdall: “My expert advice is that what you propose is not practicable. I cannot go against that advice, because I am only a steward of public money and I cannot speculate with public money. If I am advised by the best experts I can get that a certain thing is impracticable, I cannot ask for public money wherewith to do that thing.” Deputy Dowdall is not a Minister. Could not the Minister say to him: “Very well, if you believe and are convinced that we are all wrong and you are right, go ahead. Take some of this land, plant some of these trees, and if you bring the timber to maturity I will give you a guarantee now on behalf of the Government and, if necessary, by resolution of Dáil Eireann that when you bring it to maturity we will buy it from you at an economic price. You will be able to find some men like Deputy John Flynn who are prepared to put their money in a certainty and buy the land, re-afforest it according to the plans you say are fool-proof, and the day you bring it to maturity we will put the cash down and take the whole thing over from you; or we will take the timber from you. In fact, we will deal with you on any basis that you like if you will produce the economic timber according to your plans within 25 years.”
I admit that that would be a public service if Deputy Dowdall and Deputy Flynn would do it. I do not by any means suggest that to ask a man to take a risk does not mean that he is being asked to do something substantial in support of the contention he has made. I have no doubt that Deputy Flynn and Deputy Dowdall are public-spirited men who will gladly do that, provided they are guaranteed at the end of the experiment against  being forced into a business which they do not normally carry on, that of selling timber. But, would not the Minister be glad if an economic forest was grown for him of the kind he does not believe it is possible to grow, to take that over at a price which could be agreed upon now? Is not that a course which would commend itself to the Dáil? What other way is there of getting out of this dilemma? The State experts say that the thing is impossible. Deputy Dowdall's experts say that it is possible. Columns of the newspapers are filled with an acrimonious discussion, meetings are held, high arguments continue, but we get nowhere. There is, I submit, a sensible way of resolving the matter. Will the Minister make that offer? I think that if he does he discharges himself from all further burden of explanation. If he does not, he leaves Deputy Dowdall with some ground for complaint. I am all for reafforestation but, if I have got to choose between trees and men, I choose men, in Dáil Eireann, in South Kerry and in Monaghan. I should like the other Deputies who are interested in this problem to tell us what their solution of it is and, if it be true that land suitable for bringing economic trees to maturity is fit for reclamation as arable land, are they in favour of giving preference to trees over men?
Now the last matter about which I want to inquire is this. I notice, in the Estimates, that we are informed that the director is now a temporary officer. I understood that we had a German gentleman here and that he has left. Is he here still? Well, if he is still here, is it proposed to place him on a permanent basis or will he be put on a temporary basis during the period of his sojourn in this country? Is it intended that he should be replaced by a national, or what is the reason for retaining him on a temporary basis? I am glad to hear that young men are being trained in forestry schools, and I think it is all to the good. As a last matter, I would be glad if the Minister would reassure us in connection with his nurseries and let us know that due regard is being had to the legitimate  interests of the commercial nurseries of the country. The Minister will remember that the economic dispute with Great Britain involved those commercial nurseries in very heavy losses because their market in Great Britain, which was a considerable one, was restricted and, to a large extent, destroyed by that economic strife. It would be deplorable, now that they are struggling to their feet again, if they were further burdened by unfair competition from State nurseries. I do not know whether the Minister's mind has been directed to that problem or not, but if not I should be glad if he would give it consideration now.
Mr. Bartley Mr. Bartley
Mr. Bartley: I am in substantial agreement with what Deputy Dillon said. I think there is one point of view—I do not know whether Deputy Flynn made it quite clear or not—in connection with small areas that can be got here and there that might be planted. However, I think that a scheme on those lines ought to be operated in conjunction with the Board of Works in connection with their expenditure on the relief of unemployment. I believe that there are a good many small portions of land, say, of the size of an acre or thereabouts, that might be got here and there, and the draining and fencing of these, in my opinion, would offer very suitable employment for the ordinary type of person employed on minor relief schemes. I think that the active co-operation of the Forestry Department and the Board of Works would be necessary. Perhaps it was in that connection that Deputy Flynn suggested invoking the aid of the horticultural people locally. My experience is that there is real difficulty in getting land that would be useful for any other purpose, and I know of cases where I do not think anybody would require to be an expert to decide straight away that the land in question would be useless even to try to plant it on a large scale. At the same time, there are places in some of these areas where trees were formerly grown, but were cut down during the Great War. The Forestry Department now say that they would  not produce suitable timber. I referred on a few occasions here, I think, to one or two of these places in Connemara. At Seecon, near Oughterard, for instance, quite good timber was cut down during the war. Possibly that timber was put to uses that could not possibly be regarded as commercial in normal times. I do not know whether that was so or not or whether it was sent out for war purposes, but I do know that large areas were cut down during that time. The stumps of the trees are still there, and I think that these places ought to be surveyed by the Department to see if they could not be replanted.
My real purpose in speaking this evening is rather an unusual one, and that is to ask the Minister, in one particular case, not to plant too much. I refer to the estate that has been recently taken over at Ashford, Cong. I was asked to make a claim on behalf of the local congests there that a reasonable proportion of the land now acquired would be utilised for the relief of congestion. I think that the maximum amount necessary to meet the problem would be in the region of 1,000 acres, and I understand that that would leave about 2,500, or almost 3,000, acres for afforestation purposes. That was really my purpose in rising to speak, and I would ask the Minister to consider it very carefully.
Mr. F. Crowley Mr. F. Crowley
Mr. F. Crowley: I did not intend to speak on this Vote, but I think I may say that Deputy Dillon has brought me to my feet. One thing that I should like to point out to Deputy Dillon is that while every European country is increasing its acreage under forestry—increasing it two-fold in some countries, increasing it three-fold in other countries, and to a larger extent in other cases—Deputy Dillon wishes to advise us to mark time and remain as we are.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: Pure nonsense!
Mr. Crowley Mr. Crowley
Mr. Crowley: On the one side you have got to put all European Governments down as either a pack of fools or exceptionally wise people, but evidently here we are the wise people,  according to Deputy Dillon, in marking time or slowing up afforestation. I am sorry that I have not got the exact acreages under forestry in the European countries. I had not intended to take part in the debate, or I would have brought the figures with me, but if I had the figures with me I can assure Deputy Dillon that they would be an eye-opener to him and would be a lesson to him not to dabble in and talk flippantly in the manner in which he has over what is a very serious matter.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I may inform the Deputy that I also have read Mr. Mackay's book, which was sent for nothing both to the Deputy and myself by Deputy Dowdall.
Mr. Crowley Mr. Crowley
Mr. Crowley: In any case, I do not like Deputy Dillon's attitude in talking in a very flippant manner on what I regard as a very serious matter. I do not know what the Minister will have to say when he rises to speak, but I may say that I disagree totally with the outlook of some of the experts; and I will say another thing, if it were only to quote an historical saying and that is, that centuries ago, when the Irish people went to Rome, they were known as the men from the woods. All around the country you can see where the forests existed here, and if they existed in former times, surely we can afford to plant them at the present time. All I have to say further is that I should like Deputy Dillon, when he is dealing with a serious subject, to treat it in a serious manner and not treat it flippantly.
Mr. Seán Brodrick Mr. Seán Brodrick
Mr. Seán Brodrick: Deputy Bartley made a request to the Minister that he should go a bit more slowly on the matter. Strange I have an entirely different idea. Since we heard of the great plan we have always found in this House references to plans. We hear of the German experts who went through Connemara in recent times. They inspected 20,000 acres of land and out of that 20,000 acres all that they saw fit for planting with trees was  185 acres. I ask the Minister again to have another survey and to find whether it is not possible that out of 20,000 acres there was not more than 185 acres fit for planting. Deputy Dillon might say plant the lands that are fit for planting. I agree, but we have lands fit for planting in the places I have mentioned. When I speak of planting in Connemara the Minister will probably reply and say “they tried planting in Connemara before and it failed.” But I remember Deputy Mongan's version and description of that failure. I remember hearing how the young trees were left on the quays for weeks and the planting was done where there was no shelter. I think the Minister ought to take this problem more seriously. There are lands in Connemara that I know very well. Though I am not representing West Galway now I have gone through it a good deal within the last 20 years and I have seen trees that have grown there without any protection or care whatever. It is quite plain that there are places there that could produce good trees and this would be a help to the country.
Another matter in which I find fault with the Minister's policy is that he cannot undertake to plant any acreage under 300 acres. I think that is a mistake. The Minister will reply that it is not economic to plant under 300 acres in one place. If that is really so you are going to stop planting for all time because it is practically impossible to carry on planting if you have to get at least 300 acres in one belt. You can only get that acreage in a few places, probably in only four or five areas in a county. Would not the Minister consider getting 300 acres in belts of 50 or 60 acres within a radius of four or five miles and planting them? As regards the economic side of the matter I do not think the cost would be much greater than where the 300 acres would be in one belt. If the Minister does a little that way I believe he will get the acreage of land which he desires, and land that is fit for nothing else but planting.
I would like to know what training  in afforestation is given to the students of the Department of Agriculture in the agricultural colleges. I have myself down in my own constituency seen 500 acres of forest planted within a mile of an agricultural college. There were 25 students in that college and not one of these students after a year's training in that college knew anything about planting a tree. There they were within a mile of where that plantation was being carried out yet not on one occasion had they been brought out to see how the trees were planted.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: That point had better be raised on another Vote.
Mr. Brodrick Mr. Brodrick
Mr. Brodrick: I would not have raised it were it not that the college is situated within a planting area of 500 acres. If the Government are not going to get people to take an interest in planting or if they are not going to show the young people who are attending the agricultural colleges how the planting of trees is carried out, surely they are not giving them a proper training in agriculture. I will go so far as to say that those are the people who should really be trained in tree planting. Those are the people who are going back to the land. Those are the people who are supposed to educate their neighbours at home when they go back to their own homes. Those are the people who are expected to educate the people around them as to the benefit to be got from tree planting.
I would like to see small belts say of two or three or four acres planted here and there around the farmers' houses. I suppose at least 60 per cent. of the farmers would be able to plant one acre of their holdings. It is quite possible the Minister is not responsible in this particular case but I take it we are dealing with tree planting. I suppose this matter should come up on the Vote for Agriculture which is the appropriate Vote.
What help are these farmers going to be given? What training are they going to get in tree planting at the classes held throughout the country during the year? I think there should  be some co-operation between the Ministry of the Forestry Department and the Ministry of the Department of Agriculture. That co-operation would bring home to the people the benefits to be derived by doing a little planting if it were only a half an acre in each farm. There are throughout the country numbers of new houses, some good, some bad and some indifferent. But no matter what sort of houses these are, if those people were educated in planting trees or shrubs of some kind around their houses, the houses would be made more homely. I think the farmers and the youngsters in the schools are not getting the forestry education that they should. To bring this about there should be a greater co-operation between the two Departments.
Certainly, the Minister for Lands has his work cut out in dealing with the big belts of afforestation. I would again appeal to him to have another survey made of the lands in Connemara that have been rejected. Surely, in West Galway it should be possible to get more than 185 acres out of 20,000 acres for tree planting. I would also appeal to the Minister that where there are agricultural colleges throughout the country, even if the question of the transport cost arises, the students in the colleges should be brought out to those areas where afforestation is being put into operation. That should be an essential part of the training of an agricultural student. The only way to give them that training is to bring them to where the planting is being done.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: The main objection to the work of the Department has been that we have not had a plan. I submit that in order to have a plan you must have the means of carrying it out. We have been accused of doing things in a haphazard way. My answer is that there was no alternative. The land is not so easily got. The reason that we have not more land under forestry is that the land was not easily available. It is a question of getting the land that is fit to grow trees. I do not think that anyone told Deputy Dowdall that this country could not grow trees.  No expert ever suggested any such thing. What I maintain is that we cannot get the land. There are all these questions of grazing rights to be considered. You cannot take grazing rights from the people, rights that they have had for generations. The Department must hesitate before it does that. If we were foolish enough to make the mistake the Department once did we know what would happen. The Department of Forestry thought they were quite certain of one particular mountain near Cahir. They proceeded to fence that, and on one fine night 3,000 yards of that fence was torn up and burned. The one Department which must get the good-will of the people is the Forestry Department. You cannot do without it.
Mr. Gorey Mr. Gorey
Mr. Gorey: That is quite true.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: Everyone knows the damage that can be done by an ill-disposed individual in any forestry area. I am glad that there is a demand through the country for more afforestation. I hope this will have the effect of getting the people to take a different attitude towards forestry. It is not often that I agree with Deputy Dillon. It was refreshing to me to hear him admit that there was one thing about which he did not know anything. It is the first time I heard the Deputy make such an admission. Whatever he knows about forestry I admit that I know less. For that reason, I quoted, as Deputy Dillon has done, those who know something about the matter. My colleague, Deputy Dowdall, asked me how do I know they are experts. I know that they have given their whole lives to the work of forestry and that they have the professional interest in their work which every professional man has and the desire to see that work a success. They are not going to advise the Department to undertake a scheme which is going to be a complete failure. Anybody who has responsibility for the spending of public money would take the advice of those best qualified to give it. If I wanted advice on another line, I would go to Deputy Dowdall, who is a man of experience  in other matters; I would not go to the Forestry Department. I am sure that I would get very sound advice from Deputy Dowdall in matters that come within his province. Nobody with a sense of responsibility would do otherwise than take the advice of those who have spent their lives in a particular profession. I am told by my Department that large areas which have been offered for afforestation are not plantable. Small pockets here and there may be plantable, but they might not be economic. I am constrained to take the advice of the experts. Some Deputies have said that we should undertake afforestation even from the scenic point of view. That is a different matter. The Forestry Department is not concerned with scenery. It has to work on commercial lines. There must be a commercial return from these lands some time.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: That is going a little far.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: The Department of Agriculture is concerned with the other aspect of afforestation. The committees of agriculture in the different counties take an interest in decorative planting and public money is spent on it. Our Department is mainly concerned with commercial forestry.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I do not want the Minister to say something that would be subsequently quoted to mislead. Do I understand the Minister to say that no scenic amenity-value would sway his judgment in the matter of afforestation? Surely a case might arise in which the scenic requirements of a well-known tourist centre would justify planting where a full economic return might not be available. One could imagine a small area being advantageously planted which would not be an economic proposition.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: I am speaking generally of the activities of the Department. We would not be justified in doing that work to any large extent but the county committees of agriculture and, in some cases, the Department attend to it. We have regard for amenities like that  but our main purpose is to plant commercial units—something that will give a return in after years. The question as to whether sheep grazing or tree planting is the more profitable has been raised several times. There are doubts about that. I think that it is a very serious matter to go in and take away these people's rights. I was in a forest area not so long ago and I thought I would ask the opinion of an intelligent woman whom I met. I said to her, knowing that she would not be pleased, “This is a grand job. I am sure you are all delighted.” She replied, “Quite the contrary. We did our best to beat them and I am sorry to say we did not succeed, but we kept them down the road; they did not get this hill. That was the best grazing in the country.” One must have regard for the rights of people like that. These are the things that held us up. The difficulty of getting land was practically the whole difficulty. We have a certain amount of land on hands. Some of it is not plantable. Other portions of it have to be prepared for planting. That takes some time. There were other reasons which made it impossible for us to fulfil the programme we had laid down and which I was most anxious to carry out —that is to say to plant the 10,000 acres.
The statements to which Deputy Dillon referred were not confined to this side of the House. He might have substituted Deputy McMenamin or Deputy Linehan for Deputy John Flynn. Deputy Dillon was not present for the whole debate. On his own side of the House, there was the same demand. I am glad of that, but Deputies must be reasonable and they must not expect me to go beyond the advice of those best qualified to advise me as to whether land can he profitably planted or not. I cannot prepare a definite plan, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney suggested, for the reason that we have to take the land where we can get it and plant in that land the trees most suitable. It would be different if you had a vast area and could pick and choose. As the land comes into our hands, we plant it with what we consider to be the best species for  particular piece of land. Although we have not got as far as we would like, I think we have done fairly well.
We heard a lot about the rabbit pest. That is dealt with by netting. I do not think that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's point would apply to our Department's work. It would apply more to private owners. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney asked us to do what Deputy Dillon warned us not to do— to give out surplus plants to people who, otherwise, might not use them. We must have regard to the interests of private nursery firms. That is the reason we do not encourage that practice. Anybody who examines that question will find that that is the proper thing to do. Otherwise, you could easily ruin these firms. As to the schools, we do not advise them where to plant trees. I agree that it would be ridiculous to plant trees opposite a school so that they would darken the window. The idea is to popularise tree growing, but that ought not to be done in a thoughtless way. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney also referred to these exposed areas. All the Deputies seem to know more about these matters than the people who advise me. I am taking the advice of those whose advice I regard as sound.
Deputy Dowdall was too hard on us altogether. Our deficiences are not due to unwillingness at all but to inability to get suitable land. He quoted Lord Lovat. There has not been a disinclination to plant. We have doubled the area planted during the period of the last Government. There is a desire in the Department to carry out what the Government want. There is no such thing as a state of coma in the Department but we have to deal with hard facts. Some young fellows shouted “Up the Republic” when arrested for the pulling up of trees. These are the things with which we have to reckon and we have these difficulties in every part of the country. Deputy Dowdall returned to the question of an agronomical survey. We have no use for that at present because we know pretty well where there are large tracts of land suitable for afforestation. Knowing where they are and getting  them are different things. If we were to undertake a survey of lands which we were not able to get, we should be using up the valuable time of the rather small trained staff we have. I am satisfied that their time is better occupied in planting the land we are able to get. The timber is growing in the meantime, so there is nothing in that at all.
As regards the board that was suggested, I do not think that is going to get us anywhere, either. The Deputy suggests that we should do away with the control of the Department and set up a commission. I do not agree. I think we are doing all right and I have hopes that we will do better. We expect this year to get more land. Another reason that is keeping us from getting the land is the position of the Land Commission. We cannot take any land now except land that has been offered voluntarily. A lot of the land that we get through the Land Commission is land that is not suitable for ordinary division and is considered suitable by the Department for afforestation. Wherever the land is suitable for agriculture it is, of course, divided amongst the people. I am sure if we did not do that we would hear about it. Wherever the land is available and is suitable for agriculture, I will try to have it divided amongst the agriculturists.
I can assure Deputy Dowdall that there is no inferiority complex whatever. There can be no comparison between the position of this country and other countries on the Continent as regards our need for trees. Most people know that in some places on the Continent where they have a large area planted a lot of the wood is used for fuel, whereas we here have bogs which supply a large percentage of the fuel requirements of our people. Deputy Brasier stated that the Department wanted to plant only on the good land. I never heard of that and I do not know where he got that idea.
Most of the points raised by Deputy Corish were of a local nature and I am not able to reply to them just now. They dealt with employment and  referred to particular estates. I will look up these points and let the Deputy know my opinion afterwards. He tells us that we are not moving fast enough. Practically all the Deputies are saying that. We are moving as fast as we can. Deputy Kennedy wants to know how far co-operation exists between the Department and agricultural committees. There is not very much in the case of this Department, and I think it is between the Department of Agriculture and the agricultural committees that the co-operation exists. Deputy Brodrick complained because the students in the Agricultural College at Athenry were not brought out to inspect the forestry work going on in the country. That is not a matter for me. That is a matter that he might raise with the Minister for Agriculture. I have no say as regards the education of the agricultural students.
Deputy Linehan knows a whole big range of hills from Mallow down to Kerry which could be got and which he is sure is plantable. It may be plantable—I am not quite sure of that —but whether it can be got as easily as he thinks is quite another matter. Any land we can get for afforestation, at the price we are prepared to pay for it, we will be anxious to acquire. We are not going to pay an uneconomic price. Deputy Everett and other Deputies know the price the Department will give.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I offered you half a mountain in Wexford and you would not take it.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: We had a reason for that. I am sure, and I think we told you at the time.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: You said it was not big enough.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: Probably that was the reason. As regards the size of the plantation, Deputy Brodrick suggested that if we could get areas of land 60 acres in extent within a radius of five or six miles it might be suitable. We are quite prepared to do that, or to cover a larger area. However, it would  not want to be much further than six or seven miles, because we would like to have it so that all the plantations could be properly looked after. We would like, for instance, to have, say, 300 acres within easy reach.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I offered you more than 300 acres in one lump.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: I quite forget the reason why that was not accepted.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I was told it was not big enough.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: It must not be all plantable. Deputy Kelly was anxious to have the rich lands of Meath planted with trees. I suppose the reason that county is not planted is that the land is too good.
Mr. Gorey Mr. Gorey
Mr. Gorey: I suppose they want it to make furniture—armchairs.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: Deputy Everett was the Deputy who said something good about us. He talked about holidays. I believe something is to be done in that connection this month. Deputy McMenamin wants to know if there are areas of 200 acres or 2,000 acres that could be acquired right away. There are not. There is no use in discussing the other part of his statement in the circumstances. I can tell him definitely we cannot get such areas right away. He talked about the wind-swept hills of Donegal and he wanted them planted. It is a great pity that Deputy Dillon was not here at the time; he might have joined in. Deputy McMenamin also wanted to know if areas of high bog could grow timber. They might grow there if the breezes were not too strong. I assume he meant high bog up on the mountain-side. It may be possible to grow certain timber at considerable expense, but then, when a good gale would come that probably would be the end of it. He made suggestions that pamphlets might be given to the school children on the subject of tree-planting. I will pass that idea on to the proper department. Deputy Hurley complained about the slowness of the Department, but I have dealt already with that matter. He wants a survey, too. He also must have read the book.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
 Mr. Dillon: The book had a wide circulation.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: I think Deputy Flynn was treated most unfairly by Deputy Dillon. He did not say anything such as Deputy Dillon implied. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred to the Cong estate, and Deputy Bartley is also anxious that the land there should be given to the Land Commission. As to the position about the estate at Ashford, Cong, the Forestry section have taken it and I would like Deputy Bartley and others to know that if the Land Commission were to get the part suitable for division there would not be any left to relieve congestion. There are so many employees entitled to land that there would not be one acre left to be given to people other than those employees. We propose to start a good forest centre there and give as much employment as possible and try to make it one of the best forest centres in the country. There is no question of relieving outside congestion there, because we cannot ignore the claims of the people on the estate. We know what the position is. We know the amount of arable land and the number of people who were employed there and who are losing their employment. There is a big demand for land in the area, too. It is a very difficult position indeed. It is a pity the place had to be closed, because it gave great employment. It was better that we should get it and use it as best as we can.
Deputy Dillon asked a technical question about land capable of bringing trees to maturity—whether that is capable of reclamation. I am informed it is. If it is land which grows hardwood timber to maturity it is arable land.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: What about the ivy?
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: We might try to get something done about that through the schools. It would not be a bad idea. I believe there are people who supply knives to boy scouts to cut ivy. I have been told that happens in certain districts. I was asked by Deputy  Fitzgerald-Kenney of what types of trees there was a surplus. They are spruce and Scotch pine. There is a surplus of those because we did not get the proportion of land suitable for new schemes. You must plan about three years ahead. We planned to get a certain amount of land, and had sufficient trees to plant that land. When it came to the time for planting, the land was not available, and therefore there was a surplus. We did get more land suitable for hard wood, but there was a shortage there. Those things are inevitable. We cannot always be sure. The Deputy also asked about some project of Bryant and May's for growing popular trees suitable for match-making. I am told we could not get a sufficient quantity of land. Anyway it is questionable whether it would be used for that purpose, because it requires good arable land to grow those trees.
I do not think I have any more to say. I may have left some points unanswered, but I do not think I have. I will conclude by saying that I hope next year we will have a better report, and assuring those who have any doubts about the earnestness of the officials of the Department or of myself that their doubts are ill-founded. I am as anxious about afforestation as any one in this House, or even more so, but I have to act on the advice I get from the persons who are there to advise me. I would ask then that Deputies should not make reckless statements on matters of that kind on which they really are not well informed. I have studied the matter, and, of course, I do not accept everything I am told. I question many things which I am told. I am not going to accept everything I am told without knowing the reason why. I satisfy myself on these matters, and then it is a question as to whether I am sufficiently competent to arrive at a proper decision after listening to the advice I got. That is a matter which has to be decided not by myself. In any case, I am satisfied from all I have seen that officials of the Department of Forestry are not actuated by an inferiority complex, and that they are really anxious to do their work  properly. If they could have done the 10,000 acres this year, or more, they would have done it. I certainly hope we will have a much better report to make this time 12 months, if we are here, than we had this year. I admit that I myself was dissatisfied and disappointed that we did not keep to our Estimate.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: I should like to say that I raised, in all seriousness, the matter of the destruction of deciduous trees by ivy. The Minister has been kind enough to say, in regard to certain matters, that he did not anticipate them, and was not in a position to deal with them exhaustively, but that he would look into them and communicate with the Deputy who raised them. May I so far trouble him as to ask him to inquire from the experts in his Department, first, as to whether ivy destruction is a major problem, and, secondly, whether they would consider any plan of seeking the co-operation of the public to combat it, because that is not a difficult thing to do. People of good-will, on a week-end, carrying small hatchets in their hands could— if they knew how to do it properly— do a great deal. It is the kind of thing which I think boy scouts and people like that might very properly be employed to do. It is the kind of useful thing that lots of people think is not worth doing, but which, I submit with respect, is worth doing and worth having organised so as to get it done in the right way.
Mr. Boland Mr. Boland
Mr. Boland: I will have that whole thing examined.
Estimate put and agreed to.
Dáil Éireann 75 Committee on Finance. Vote 55—Forestry (Resumed).