The general public should be allowed to decide how Irish farmers’ land is used, a conference in Co Clare has heard.

Speaking at a land use conference, Changing Landscapes, ecologist Pádraic Fogarty said the decision on how land is used should be taken away from farmers.

“I look at this problem not through technology or how we’re going to convince people to convert their land into forests, although that is important.

“Another way of looking at it is through power relations.

“We have a set of power relations that exclude everyone in the country, even though they are making decisions that affect everyone in the country. We need much more democracy and openness and transparency when it comes to how we use our land,” he said

Fogarty, previously campaigns officer of the Irish Wildlife Trust, added that a small number of people and organisations decide on land use.


“A very, very small number of people make decisions on how land is used in Ireland.

They make the decisions about how public money is spent around land use, primarily we’re talking about forestry and agriculture.

“Most of those people in the room, who are they? They’re farming organisations, State agencies and representatives of co-ops and supermarkets.

“If you are outside that circle, you are considered an eco-zealot, you are considered irrelevant,” he said.

‘Under threat’

Ipsos Behaviours and Attitudes director Niall McCafferty, who spoke on the same panel as Fogarty, said “farmers feel under threat” and are “being vilified”.

“There has to be an understanding of their way of life, the way that they’re working through [things].

“Sitting talking to farmers, I think that’s the bit that’s left out; how well we understand their identity and what they’re trying to do,” he added.