The backlog of forestry licensing within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has raised concerns regarding stock supply for those in the timber business, according to a travel report published by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Members of the committee recently visited Murray’s timber group and Coillte forest park in Co. Galway to assess the situation. The visit was attended by committee chair Jackie Cahill, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice, Deputy Claire Kerrane, and Senator Paul Daly. During the visit, the committee toured the sawmill and discussed the challenges faced by the business, including staffing issues and stock supply.
The timber group highlighted the difficulty in retaining staff due to the demanding nature of the work required to keep the facility operational 24/7. Additionally, the impact of Brexit and the forestry licensing backlog has become a major concern, leading to an increase in the need to import timber. At times, the business has even had to import logs from Scotland when Irish supplies run out. The representatives of Murray’s timber group suggested that the process for issuing thinning forestry licenses should be withdrawn, as it slows down the issuing of felling forestry licenses.
During the visit to Murray’s Coillte park, representatives from Coillte joined the delegation. They expressed their concerns about the requirement to apply for various types of forestry licenses and the failure to meet afforestation targets, which could further increase the need for timber imports. The delegation learned that Coillte’s strategy of redesign, rewetting, and rewilding has successfully reintroduced native species into the forest. However, the progress has been hindered by a high deer population, which has been destroying newly planted trees. Coillte informed the delegation that measures have been implemented to prevent deer from entering the nurseries, but suggested that a national culling program should be evaluated as the best solution to control the deer population and allow the forests to thrive.
The committee described the visit as insightful and educational, stating that it contributed to their pursuit of deeper knowledge and understanding in the field of forestry policy and strategy. The findings of the visit will be taken into consideration as the committee continues its work in this area.