Coillte has said just 16% of its timber harvest for 2021 has been licensed to date. Approximately 2.3m cubic metres of Coillte timber is caught up in the ongoing licensing crisis.

Coillte chief executive Imelda Hurley told the agriculture committee on Tuesday that the licensing approval rate needs to triple before the end of the year in order to process its outstanding 750 applications.

“The current licensing crisis is set to continue into 2021 if the processing rate isn’t at least tripled. We are reaching the acute stages of this crisis, with very little licensed timber remaining.”

Challenging confidence

Hurley has called for additional resources to be made available to the Department of Agriculture and forestry appeals committee (FAC) in order to speed up licensing approval rates.

“We currently have 223 appeals under review. Confidence in the sector has been challenged by the ongoing crisis.

“In order to return a level of confidence, resources must be made available to the Department, which in turn will lead to faster licensing and speedier processing of appeals,” she said.

Coillte has said its 311 outstanding road permit applications are preventing the organisation from accessing licensed timber.

Import scarcity

Coillte Forest managing director Mark Carlin told the committee that high demand across Europe is causing difficulty in sourcing timber for import.

“Approximately 300,000 cubic metres of timber is imported which only makes up between 10% and 15% of our national timber supply. Demand across Europe is causing sawmills difficulty when trying to source imported product.”

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