Forest Industries Ireland (FII) has said it is gravely concerned with the picture that Department officials are painting of the ‘dire’ forestry situation to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Pippa Hackett.
A spokesperson for FII has warned: “The ministers are not getting a clear picture of how bad the situation remains.
“Despite what Department officials claim to be doing, the situation has not improved with the supply of timber into sawmills. Many afforestation licences are still there two years later.”
FII has said the Department needs to outsource a qualified project manager.
Meanwhile, the IFA has said it will hold Minister Hackett to account on her statement that farmers will start to see delivery from Project Woodland within 12 weeks.
“To use the minister’s own words, farmers will be pressing pause on forestry if they don’t see significant improvements during this time,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.
“It is evident that farmers have lost faith in the Department’s ability to resolve the forest licence crisis.
“Given the importance of the plan to the future of forestry, I am calling on the minister to reconsider her decision and appoint a full-time independent project manager.”
IFA farm forestry chair Vincent Nally said that farmers are hugely frustrated with the ‘communication vacuum’ and the lack of transparency as to where their licence is in the system.
“The recommendation to pilot an environmental report grant should be acted on immediately and should be piloted on the 1,100 private felling licences that are caught up in ecology,” Nally said.
“This would go a long way to ease some of the frustration among farmers. It would provide some much-needed support and free up resources within the Department to support the implementation of the plan.”