Work is well under way on looking at the backlog of forestry licences and more effective processes under Project Woodland, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett has said.
She was speaking following the fourth meeting of the national forestry policy group, which took place on Thursday.
Chaired by Minister Hackett, the meeting was convened to monitor progress on the implementation of Project Woodland, which she established earlier this year to review and implement national forest policy.
The Minister highlighted her Department’s continued investment in new resources to implement national forestry policy and overcome current licencing difficulties.
This includes the recruitment of an external project management adviser by her Department.
The adviser will take up the post on 4 May and will be quickly followed by a systems analyst to undertake a full process review.
The meeting was told about a comprehensive SWOT and PESTLE analysis, which has started as a first step towards the development of the new forestry strategy.
It is envisaged that the public engagement plan for the strategy will be finalised by June this year and then rolled out during the remainder of the year.
There was also discussion about a launch of a call for proposals for woodland support funding in Ireland for 2021-2022.
The call is expected to be made next week and will be one of the first outcomes of the project.
The minister also informed members that the Irish Rural Link study on community attitudes to forestry, which she commissioned as part of Project Woodland, is in its preparatory phase and will commence in earnest in mid-May.