Forest owners have taken to the streets in protest in Dublin to express anger over the 1,000 afforestation applications and thousands of felling and road licence applications which are still awaiting a decision from Government.

The Social, Economic, Environmental Forestry Association (SEEFA) wants highlight the severe social, economic and environmental impact of this crisis by the 'Save Irish Forestry' protest at Government buildings today.

Over 100 representatives from the private Irish forestry sector gathered for the protest on Kildare Street today in response to the crisis facing the industry to seek direct intervention from the Department of An Taoiseach.

Jobs threatened

Delays in granting licenses is forcing imports of timber while Irish trees cannot be planted or felled, threatening 12,000 jobs in the industry.

Last week, SEEFA hosted a number of social media protests targeting TDs all over the country.

These protests highlighted the three core issues facing the industry which are:

1 Social – The lack of licences means that there is no planting or harvesting taking place, greatly impacting jobs within the industry.

2 Economic – House prices continue to be inflated as we have to import timber because of a lack of licences to cut our own.

3 Environmental – Due to not planting enough trees in the past five years, 5.4m tonnes of carbon will not be captured.

Proposed solutions

Representatives of SEEFA met with a number of Government TDs on Tuesday 2 November to outline five proposed solutions to the crisis which they are calling to be implemented as a matter of urgency. These include:

  • Full implementation of the MacKinnon Report in a defined timeframe, with immediate implementation of the environmental planning proposal
  • Maximum timelines must be introduced for every application in a functioning licensing system
  • Full integration of afforestation into the next CAP
  • The creation of a Forestry Development Agency to promote and represent the sector (forestry is currently the only natural resource sector without a development agency)
  • Political support allied to leadership in the Forest Service which is essential to achieve climate change targets and to support existing challenges for forest owners