Covering up of the scale of the forestry licenses backlog is a scandal and Minister Pippa Hackett must immediately correct the Dáil record in relation to the number of licences caught up in her Department, IFA president Tim Cullinan has said.
At a recent Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing, it was stated by Department of Agriculture officials that the backlog was of the order of 2,000 licences.
The IFA has said that the Department has since confirmed that there are over 4,500 licences caught up in the system, some for over two years.
Cullinan said: "The target for processing licences in both the legislation and the charter of farmers' rights is four months. These delays will be the death knell for our timber industry and our forestry planting programme.
"The Department needs to move immediately to implement [the] IFA’s six-point emergency plan, including an amnesty on felling licences.”
IFA farm forestry chair Vincent Nally said that the system is not working for farmers.
“The costs and red tape associated with planting and managing a forest is a disincentive to planting and actively discourages management.
“The system needs to be streamlined through the amendment of the Forestry Act 2014 to remove the requirement of a licence for forest roads and thinning operations.”
The IFA has said the submission of a management plan that describes how the forest will be sustainably managed over a 10- to 20-year period should replace the licence requirement.