The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has issued a total of 116 forestry licences so far this month, but none of these permits allowed for new afforestation. According to the DAFM’s latest Forestry Licensing Dashboard for the week ending on Friday, August 11, the number of afforestation licences issued this year remains at 10. Coillte felling licences accounted for the majority at 74 licences issued in August, while the DAFM also issued 39 private felling and three road licences. The Forestry Licensing Dashboard reveals that a total area of 99ha has been planted in the first two weeks of this month, bringing the total afforestation so far this year to 1,119ha. Additionally, three kilometers of forest roads have been constructed in the first two weeks of August, bringing the total for the year to 42km. Licences issued this month allow for an additional kilometer. Over the past two weeks, the DAFM approved the felling of 1,276ha or a total volume of 275,265m3. Year to date, a total of 1,030 private and 858 Coillte felling licences have been issued. Licence approvals under the DAFM’s Interim Afforestation Scheme via General De Minimis remained at last month’s level of 288 licences. However, the recently approved afforestation measure as part of Ireland’s new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme 2023-2027 will open for new applications in the coming weeks.
In response to the latest figures, the Social, Economic Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) described the situation as a “licensing scandal, now in its sixth year, [that] is getting progressively worse.” SEEFA called on all elected representatives to question Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, about the number of people employed in the DAFM’s Forest Service to deliver just 52 licences last week. The organization also urged elected representatives to inquire about the publication of the licensing plan for autumn 2023 and the full year 2024.