There is no sense of urgency for processing applications to plant trees or to allow land owners to cut the forestry they have planted, according to Independent TD Michael McNamara.
He said that “perhaps” landowners are seeking to “replace it with something more environmentally sustainable”, but they are being prevented from doing so.
McNamara was speaking during a motion on Issues impacting the Forestry Sector in Ireland presented to the Dáil by Jackie Cahill TD, chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee.
Clare TD McNamara told the Dáil that farmers are being prevented from harvesting forestry they plant and there is no incentive to “replace the monoculture Sitka spruce plantations with something more sustainable”.
He told Minister of State for Forestry Pippa Hackett that the type of forestry being carried out in Ireland is not environmentally sustainable.
"I hope we are about to see a change because all the talk in the world about afforestation in [at COP26 in] Glasgow is completely worthless unless it is backed up by what farmers are experiencing on the ground.”
McNamara said farmers, ordinary people and landowners are the “future of afforestation in Ireland” and urged Minister Hackett to “back up the talk with actions” for this cohort.
Minister Hackett described how the issues impacting the forestry sector “have been a priority” since she took on the brief.
On planting and harvesting licenses, Hackett said: “We have started a full and independent regulatory review of the licensing of forestry activities. It is being led by external consultants and we expect them to report back next February.
“I know [licensing] is a key area of concern and is a source of deep frustration for those within the sector. We are moving in the right direction but it is important that this discussion is based on facts and the latest figures.”