According to the latest Forestry Licensing Dashboard by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), a total area of 1,020ha has been planted in the first seven months of 2023. However, afforestation levels remain below last year’s level, with an additional 1,253ha of new plantings needed in the coming months to reach the 2022 total of 2,273ha. In July 2023, an area of 233ha was planted, which is 6ha more than during the same month last year. Overall, afforestation levels have been improving in the first half of 2023. After reaching significant lows in February and March at 23ha and 82ha respectively, the number of hectares planted reached its highest level so far this year in June at 274ha.
The Forestry Licensing Dashboard defines land as “planted” when the planting on site has concluded and the payment claim for it has been processed by the DAFM. The DAFM has been notified of a further 638ha where planting has been completed, and the payment claim is being submitted by the applicant to be processed.
In July of this year, the DAFM issued one licence for 7ha of plantings, according to the Forestry Licensing Dashboard up until the week ending on Friday, July 28. In June, two afforestation licences were issued, allowing for plantings of 14ha. In total, the DAFM issued 10 licences in the first seven months of 2023, which allow for plantings of 140ha. However, approvals under the Interim Afforestation Scheme via General De Minimis rose to 288 in July.
Ireland’s €1.3 billion Forestry Programme 2023-2027, which was announced last year, is still subject to approval from the European Commission. In the first seven months of the year, 39km of forestry roads have been constructed. Last month, the DAFM issued 21 licences allowing for the construction of a further 13km. Additionally, a total of 121 private felling and 79 Coillte felling licences were issued last month, permitting the felling of 2,368ha.
It is clear that afforestation efforts in Ireland have been steadily increasing, with improvements seen in the first half of 2023. However, there is still work to be done to reach the afforestation targets set for this year. The approval of the Forestry Programme 2023-2027 will play a crucial role in further supporting and expanding Ireland’s forestry industry.