The Republic of Ireland is trying to reach its global warming targets by planting large numbers of new trees.
The country has a target of increasing areas of woodland from less than 11% at the current time to 18% by 2046.
County Leitrim is already close to meeting that target.
The measures are proving controversial. The price of land is rising as big financial institutions are cashing in and profiting from grant aid incentives.
Locals in Leitrim fear that afforestation is adding to the problem of depopulation in the county.
Jim McCaffrey’s has a small farm that will soon be surrounded by forestry. He told the BBC
“To me it’s akin to ethnic cleansing, only you don’t use a bomb or a bullet,” he said.
“You just push millions of taxpayers’ money at it and the outsiders will come – the foreign investors, banks and pension funds.
“It’s Irish taxpayers’ money. And they’ll come and buy Leitrim land and plant it and remove the indigenous people.”
Many local people are unhappy that most of the new woodland is made up of North American sitka spruce and not native species like oak, ash and hazel.
Local Independent MEP Marian Harkin is concerned about the affects of the new woodlands on the local economy.
She argues that unless they plant trees farmers struggle to get loans and that the price of land is becoming beyond the reach of the local people.
The MEP has also raised concerns that the afforestation policies being followed by the Irish government-run counter to European Union policies.
These policies call for balance to be maintained in the designated type of afforestation and its relationship with biodiversity, the maintenance of population and the social fabric of areas encountering intensive afforestation.
Sylvester Phelan (Agriland.co.uk) recently quoted Ms Harkin as saying “One EU official described Leitrim as a national sacrifice zone for sitka spruce and I fully agree with this sentiment.”
Other farmers appreciate the opportunity to plant trees on their land and benefit from a more stable revenue.