Green Revolution: DAFM Grants 88 Afforestation Licences in Thriving 2023!

"Sharp Decline in Afforestation Licences Issued by DAFM in 2023, Raising Concerns for Ireland's Forestation Goals"

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has reported a significant decrease in the number of afforestation licences issued in 2023 compared to the previous year. According to the latest Forestry Licensing Dashboard released by the department, only 88 afforestation licences were issued in 2023, a significant drop from over 700 in 2022. This decline is also reflected in the number of afforestation licence applications, which decreased from around 440 in 2022 to 165 in 2023.

The total area covered by the afforestation licences issued in 2023 was 789ha, a considerable decrease from 4,972ha in 2022 and 4,246ha in 2021. However, the department has noted that 99 afforestation licences, covering almost 850ha, which were previously approved, are now approved under the new forestry programme. Furthermore, 288 afforestation applications were approved under the de minimis scheme, which was in place prior to the new forestry programme receiving EU Commission approval.

Despite these figures, it is clear that the government’s annual target of 8,000ha of new forests by 2027 is far from being met. Only 1,651ha of forestry was planted in 2023, compared to 2,273ha in 2022 and 2,016ha in the previous year. DAFM has clarified that the figures for trees planted in 2023 reflect afforestation that had been paid at the first grant stage in the previous year.

In addition to afforestation, the department also received a significant number of private felling licence applications in 2023. A total of 922 applications were made, with 1,427 licences being issued. Coillte, the State-owned forestry company, made 1,078 applications for felling, resulting in 1,411 licences being granted. As for forestry roads, 520 applications were made, with 243 licences being issued last year.

The department also dealt with appeals related to afforestation, tree felling, and forest roads. In 2023, there were 12 appeals related to afforestation, 32 appeals related to tree felling, and two appeals concerning forest roads.

The Reconstitution of Ash dieback scheme (RADS) also saw some activity, with 203 applications being approved, covering nearly 840ha.

Looking ahead, DAFM has published its forestry licensing plan for 2024, which estimates that the department will issue 4,200 new licences this year. It has also confirmed that it has the capacity to issue sufficient licences to meet the annual target of 8,000ha of new forests. DAFM has projected that there will be 1,000 afforestation applications next year, which would be the required number to meet the targets set by the government.

These figures highlight the challenges faced by the forestry sector in Ireland and the need for increased efforts to meet afforestation targets. The decrease in afforestation licences issued in 2023 calls for a closer examination of the reasons behind this decline and the implementation of strategies to encourage afforestation in the years to come.

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.

Leave a Replay

Scroll to Top