Greening the Emerald Isle: Record-breaking 22 Afforestation Licences Planted in November!

"Department of Agriculture Issues 22 Afforestation Licences in November 2023, Forestry Licensing Slows Down"

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) issued a total of 22 afforestation licences in November 2023, according to the latest figures. The Forestry Licensing Dashboard, which provides updates until Friday, November 24, revealed that only three afforestation licences were issued in the last week of November, compared to 24 Coillte felling licences during the same period. The figures also indicated that 1,615 hectares of forestry have been planted so far this year, with an additional 8 hectares planted since the previous week. However, the current rate of afforestation falls short of the Climate Action Plan’s annual target of 8,000 hectares, as DAFM figures show that only around 2,000 hectares are being delivered. To reach last year’s total of 2,273 hectares, an additional 658 hectares would need to be planted in December.

The Social, Economic Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) expressed concerns about the impact of the three afforestation licences issued last week. They stated that these licences would lead to job losses for private nurseries, foresters, and contractors. SEEFA also highlighted that this rate of afforestation would only result in an annual afforestation of 700 hectares, which is less than 10% of the government’s climate action target. They warned that Ireland may face significant financial penalties and irreversible damage to its natural world and biodiversity if it fails to meet its legally binding climate targets within the next seven years.

Earlier this year, SEEFA criticized the government for falling short of its afforestation targets. They stated that an average of 60 licences per week was well below the target of 100 licences per week set by DAFM in 2022. Deputy Claire Kerrane, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, also criticized the government for its failure to deliver on forestry. She highlighted that afforestation licensing figures continue to decline despite the introduction of the new Forestry Programme. Deputy Kerrane further added that applicants are experiencing long waiting times for their files to be processed, with no indication of when they can expect to receive their licences.

In conclusion, the latest figures on afforestation licences and planted forestry areas in Ireland indicate a shortfall in meeting climate action targets. The low number of licences issued and the slow processing of applications are causing concerns among industry stakeholders and political representatives. It remains to be seen how the government will address these challenges and ensure the timely delivery of afforestation projects to mitigate the impact of climate change and protect Ireland’s natural environment.

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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