The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has released its forestry licensing plan for 2024, outlining its projections for the coming year. According to the plan, DAFM anticipates issuing 4,200 new licenses in 2024, which will enable the department to meet its target of establishing 8,000 hectares of new forests by 2027. Additionally, DAFM estimates that it will receive approximately 1,000 afforestation applications in the next year, a figure that aligns with the necessary number of applications to meet their targets.
Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at DAFM, Pippa Hackett, expressed her satisfaction with the progress made thus far: “Since the new forestry program opened in September, we have approved 73 afforestation licenses, covering a total area of 593 hectares. Furthermore, we have processed 92 applications that were previously approved under the 2014-2020 forestry program but had not yet commenced planting. These applicants have now opted into the new forestry program for 2023-2027. As a result, an additional 808 hectares of land have become available for planting at the higher grant and premium rates since the program’s inception.”
In order to plant or fell a forest, landowners and farmers must obtain a license from DAFM. This requirement ensures that all forestry activities adhere to sustainable forest management practices, protect the environment, and comply with the law. Minister Hackett expressed confidence in DAFM’s ability to meet demand, stating, “I am very confident that, with the additional resources my department has allocated and the efficiencies we have implemented thus far, we will continue to exceed demand in 2024 by issuing more licenses than the number of applications we receive.”
Data from the third week of December 2023 reveals that DAFM received 143 afforestation applications this year, resulting in the issuance of 85 licenses. Additionally, 890 private felling applications were submitted, with nearly 1,400 licenses granted. DAFM aims to issue afforestation licenses within six months for straightforward projects that do not require additional environmental assessment. For more complex sites that necessitate further evaluation, the department estimates that the process may take up to nine months.
The forestry licensing plan for 2024 demonstrates DAFM’s commitment to sustainable forest management and the expansion of Ireland’s forested areas. By issuing licenses in a timely manner and providing support to landowners and farmers, DAFM aims to facilitate the establishment of new forests and ensure that all forestry activities are conducted responsibly and in accordance with environmental regulations.
Overall, the plan sets out a clear roadmap for the coming year, outlining the department’s objectives and strategies for managing Ireland’s forests. With the necessary resources in place and a focus on efficiency, DAFM is well-positioned to meet its targets and contribute to the growth and sustainability of Ireland’s forestry sector.