The Government forestry target of planting 8,000ha this year is falling almost 80% short.

In response to a parliamentary question, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue revealed that just 1,700ha have been approved to plant this year.

Given that it is almost May, it is unlikely that that target will be made up in the remainder of the year.

The question came from Independent TD Verona Murphy, who raised concerns over the economic future of those working in the forestry sector given the delays in issuing planning approvals.

Her concerns were echoed by fellow Independent TD Carol Nolan, who said that job losses in the sector would soon become unavoidable.

“Despite the rhetoric emerging from the Department around improved processing times and attempts to address the ecology-related backlog, it is now clear that none of this appears to be having any positive impact on the ground,” Nolan said.

“I find it deeply alarming that even after endless parliamentary questions and committee engagements on this crisis, that the problem is persisting, seemingly without end.”