The Association of Irish Forestry Consultants (AIFC) has joined the private forestry representative group Social Economic Environmental Forestry of Ireland (SEEFA).

The two groups said their merger was aimed at consolidating the “private forestry sector’s representation”.

AIFC is Ireland’s largest grouping of private forestry advisers. Formed in 1997, its members work directly with farmers and forestry owners to provide forestry-related services.

Meanwhile, SEEFA represents a wide range of businesses involved in the private forestry sector.

Joint statement

In a joint statement, the two organisations said their focus remained on the challenges currently facing the forestry sector.

Among the most pressing concerns cited were:

  • The Department of Agriculture’s ability to implement the forestry programme 2023-2027.
  • The absence of scientific justification for forestry exclusion zones.
  • Low forestry grant rates.
  • The lack of timelines or accountability around licences.
  • The Government’s preference for Coillte over the private forestry sector.
  • The Government’s failure to deal with the ash dieback crisis.
  • Welcoming the merger with AIFC, SEEFA chair Teige Ryan said the private sector will need a “united approach in ongoing political engagements at Government and European level”.

    Ryan pointed out that another key function of the merged group will be to continue briefing industry and media on forestry-related matters.

    “SEEFA, with AIFC's support, will continue to work hard on behalf of farmers and private practitioners, focusing on increasing afforestation rates and maintaining a sustainable level of valuable private timber to our sawmills in the future,” Ryan insisted.

    “The group will seek full ministerial and [European] Commission support in our efforts to re-engage farmers with forestry. This association will hold the Department of Agriculture to account regarding failed policies and procedures,” he added.

    “Central to this will be ensuring the private sector [is] treated equally by the Department, particularly in terms of consultation and issuing of licences,” Ryan said.