Teagasc has said that the extent and type of planting take-up in 2024 will be pivotal for the forestry sector in order for it to meet its planting targets.

Based on planting levels to date, the projected total area planted in 2023 is just over 2,000ha.

This, Teagasc said in its annual outlook report, is below 2022 levels and is reflective of the challenge of substantially increasing afforestation rates and progressing towards planting targets in 2024.

Teagasc said that range of supportive actions and a fully co-ordinated approach is required by all stakeholders to help initiate an upward trend in planting levels.

Key to reaching such targets is the need to revitalise confidence among landowners in the benefits of forestry as a viable option to complement existing farm enterprises.

8,000ha target

The Government aims to plant 8,000ha of new forests in 2024, allocating €110m in funding to the sector in order to reach targets set out in the Food Vision 2030 Strategy and Climate Action Plan 2023.

However, based on current planting levels, Government could fall short of the target.

Speaking at the launch of the outlook report, forestry development officer at Teagasc Tom Houlihan said for those affected by ash dieback disease, an independent review has been completed and published.

He added that a follow-up implementation plan will shortly be published, which will be “very important for owners”.