Forestry licensing is running 27% ahead of last year, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

Up to 18 June, a total of 1,594 licences were issued, which is 27% ahead of the same period last year.

The licences equate to 3.14m cubic metres of timber, the Minister told Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae in response to a parliamentary question this week.

“Overall, 971 tree felling licences have been issued to date, of which 47% are private felling licences.

“I expect to maintain this momentum for the rest of the year and to reach the target of issuing 4,500 licences, which is a 75% increase on last year’s licensing output,” the Minister said.

The Minister’s comments follow the update provided in May, when licensing clearances were running 11% ahead of the same period in 2020.

Forestry roadways

Independent TD Richard O'Donoghue from Limerick also quizzed the Minister on the approval of roadways required for forestry maintenance and harvesting.

“To date this year, the Department has issued 319 forest road licences for 134km of roads. This is 107% of the annual target of 125km of forest roads to be licensed in 2021,” stated Minister McConalogue.

“Since the beginning of the year, the average time to issue a forest road licence from the date advertised is nine months.

“I take very seriously the need to improve licensing output and it an issue of the utmost importance for Minister of State Hackett, who has responsibility for forestry, and myself,” he wrote.