Specific forestry planting targets for 2022 must be published by the Department of Agriculture (DAFM) as a matter of urgency, the private forestry representative group Social, Economic Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) has maintained.

SEEFA has also called for the publication of targets detailing the number of felling and other forestry-related licences to be issued in 2022.

The private forestry body said urgent and co-ordinated action was required to address the serious problems facing the Irish forestry industry.

Planned output

“This sector now needs to know the planned output of the Forest Service of the DAFM per licence and scheme type for 2022. And this planned output must match the requirements of the sector,” said Paddy Bruton of Forestry Services.

“SEEFA call[s] on Minister McConalogue to publish the planned output per licence and scheme type for 2022 immediately,” he added.

The private forestry sector pointed out that just 2,500ha were planted in 2021, the lowest level of afforestation since 1949.

The Department has failed to reach its own soft target of 4,500 licences for 2021

Teige Ryan of SEEFA and None So Hardy Forestry took issue with comments from Minister Pippa Hackett praising the performance of the Department’s Forestry Service.

“The Department has failed to reach its own soft target of 4,500 licences for 2021. Only 12% of the 4,035 licences issued were afforestation licences,” Ryan maintained.

“According to Department figures this month, there are 4,742 forestry licenses still outstanding, including 878 afforestation, 3,285 felling and 579 road licenses,” he added.

Lower figure

Tomás Hanrahan of Forestlink Ltd echoed Ryan’s sentiments. He pointed out that the number of grant-aided forest road metres constructed in 2021 was 29% lower than the figure for 2020.

SEEFA members maintain that the number of forestry-related licences issued by the Forestry Service must double to at least 8,000 per annum if industry requirements are to be satisfied.

The private forestry body has also called for:

  • Full implementation of the MacKinnon report in a defined timeframe, with immediate implementation of the environmental planning proposal.
  • Maximum timelines to be introduced for every application.
  • The creation of a forestry development agency to promote and represent the sector.