An urgent rethink of Ireland’s forestry strategy is required, the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has said.
Despite the current strategy being in place for less than a year, the ACA pointed to the low planting figures for 2023 as evidence that farmers are not buying in.
“Current forest policy has failed, year on year, to achieve what is now scientifically established as an inadequate target,” a report carried out by the ACA, titled ‘Forestry policy – putting landowners front and centre’, says.
It looks at the 2,000ha in annual plantings of recent years with targets ranging from the Government’s forestry plan of 8,000ha until 2030, and the higher figures from the Environmental Protection Agency- commissioned report on land use indicating somewhere in the region of 30,000ha will be required per annum from 2030 to 2050.
Planting trees “should not involve any payment disincentive” with any payment reductions addressed, it states.
The anomaly where forestry land is ineligible for some schemes should be addressed, it adds, as should the determination that managing forestry is not an ‘agricultural activity’.
The report also describes the different regulatory approach to farmland planted prior to 2008 and since then as “illogical” and call for its removal.