Green Revolution: Ireland’s Forest Cover Grows with Over 1,600ha Planted in 2021!

"Forestry Planting Surpasses 1,600ha in Ireland this Year, Reveals Department of Agriculture"

An area of just over 1,600ha of forestry has been planted so far this year, according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The Forestry Licensing Dashboard, up until Friday, November 17, reveals that 19 afforestation licences have been issued by the DAFM this month. These licences permit a further 158ha of plantings, contributing to the 1,607ha planted year to date. However, Ireland is still well below its own planting target. Despite the Climate Action Plan setting an annual afforestation target of 8,000ha, the DAFM figures show that only around 2,000ha are currently being achieved.

An additional 666ha would need to be planted in the coming weeks to reach last year’s total of 2,273ha. However, given the slow rate of planting thus far, this outcome seems unlikely.

In total, 2,879 licences have been issued so far in 2023, including 56 for new plantings. The private felling sector received 1,325 licences, while Coillte received 1,301 licences. Last week, 49 felling licences were issued, with 26 going to the private sector and 23 to Coillte. These licences allow for thinning of 226.86ha and clear felling of 364.10ha. Furthermore, the DAFM has issued 197 licences this year, permitting the construction of 72km of forest roads, in addition to the 65km already constructed in 2023.

The Social, Economic Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) expressed concern over the impact of the forest service on private sector afforestation. SEEFA stated that this will have “disastrous consequences” for Ireland’s climate, even years after Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue’s term in office. The association also criticized the DAFM for not yet publishing a licensing plan for the remainder of 2023 and next year.

In a recent episode of the AgriFocus podcast, Agriland spoke with Andy Dunne, co-author of the paper “Putting landowners front and centre,” which was recently published by the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA). Dunne, an agriculture and land use consultant with nearly 30 years of experience in the sector, discussed why forestry must be a “real and straightforward choice for farmers.”

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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