Teagasc Urges Action: 2024 Planting Boom Holds Key to Forestry Sector’s Future

"Teagasc Urges Urgent Action to Boost Planting Rates and Meet Forestry Sector Targets in 2024"

The future of Ireland’s forestry sector depends on the extent and type of planting take-up in 2024, according to a report published by Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority. The report emphasizes the urgent need to increase planting rates sustainably and achieve planting targets in 2023 and beyond. It highlights the crucial role of forests in climate change mitigation, rural development, and renewable energy provision. Teagasc calls for a coordinated effort among all stakeholders to drive an upward trend in planting levels.

The report suggests that substantial support within the Forestry Programme 2023-2027, combined with assistance for farmers and landowners, is necessary to encourage their engagement with forestry. The Native Tree Area Scheme (NTAS), which allows farmers to plant up to 1ha of native woodland without a license, has received 25 applications, with 8 approvals issued so far. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is responsible for overseeing the scheme.

Currently, there are nearly 24,000 individual forest owners in Ireland, with over 19,000 of them being farmers. In 2022, 88% of forestry development investment by the DAFM was allocated to afforestation grants and premia. The report emphasizes the importance of ongoing sustainable forest management, including timely thinning operations, to optimize forest productivity and facilitate the mobilization of timber. Teagasc stresses the need for appropriate and timely thinning in private forests to promote this important silvicultural practice.

As more of Ireland’s private forest estate reaches maturity, the report highlights the necessity of developing markets for both hardwood and conifer species. This will require increased support for research and innovation to stimulate new and emerging markets. The export-oriented sawmilling sector, which is expected to face challenges in the market environment post-2023, expresses strong confidence in its ability to process the available timber in the coming years.

The report also emphasizes the importance of sustained progress in the licensing of forest roading and felling activities. This is crucial to enable sustainable wood mobilization and supply to domestic and export timber markets. Overall, the Teagasc report underscores the need for collaborative efforts and supportive actions to ensure the future success and sustainability of Ireland’s forestry sector.

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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