The European Commission has agreed to an extension of the state aid approval for Ireland’s National Forestry Programme for 2021.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett has welcomed the news which will provide assurance to those who wish to apply for grants under the current forestry programme.

Minister Hackett said: “This approval gives legal certainty for the continuation of the programme. This extended period gives us a much needed opportunity to look afresh at forestry in Ireland.

“We know we need to build and improve on the existing model to provide ecosystem services, income, jobs and recreational opportunities, as well as contributing to our challenging environmental goals.”

Felling reduction

The volume of timber licensed for felling in 2020 was just over 5 million cubic metres, down from 6.5 million cubic metres licensed in 2019.

Over 40% of this output was licensed between October and December.

The Department has said 2,760 felling applications are on hand at present, down from 3,230 applications on 1 October 2019.

Providing updates on the current position on forestry planting and licensing, the Minister said: “A well-functioning licensing system is the bedrock of any successful forestry programme.

“We are continuing to invest heavily in the licensing process, so that we can deliver the service that stakeholders expect.”