No New Afforestation Licences Issued as Planting Continues
An area of almost 100ha has been planted so far this month, however no new afforestation licences have been issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The latest Forestry Licensing Dashboard shows that the DAFM issued 31 road licences, 62 private felling licences, and 104 Coillte felling licences this month. As of Friday, September 22, a total of 97ha has been planted, bringing the total new afforestation planted this year to 1,324ha, according to the DAFM.
These figures reveal that the number of afforestation licences issued by the DAFM in 2023 remains at 12 non-grant aided licences, allowing for 170ha of new plantings. The DAFM has stated that it cannot issue grant-aided afforestation and road licences until it receives full and final EU approval for the new Forestry Programme 2023-2027. Although the programme received final EU approval on September 6 and the new afforestation scheme opened for applications, no licences have been issued since. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has recently announced his intention to publish a licensing plan that will cover the remainder of 2023 and 2024.
Compensation Package Considered for Ash Dieback Affected Farmers
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that the government is currently examining a compensation package for farmers and landowners affected by ash dieback. Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, September 27, Varadkar assured that a decision on the matter will be made “sooner rather than later”. He acknowledged that many individuals invested in forestry based on government encouragement and grants, and for some, this investment was intended to serve as their pension. Given the destruction of their crops due to ash dieback, the Taoiseach emphasized the need for a compensation package similar to those provided for similar crops in similar circumstances.
The Taoiseach’s comments were in response to independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan, who raised the issue of an ash dieback compensation package.