Minister’s Bold Claim: DAFM Geared Up to Surpass Forestry Targets

"Minister for Agriculture Ensures Sufficient Afforestation Licences to Meet Annual Planting Target"

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced that his department is fully prepared to issue an adequate number of afforestation licenses to meet the annual target of 8,000 hectares of forestry planting. The latest data from the forestry licensing dashboard, for the week ending February 2, reveals that eight afforestation licenses were granted. This brings the total number of licenses issued this year to 46, a significant increase compared to just two licenses issued during the same period last year.

Minister McConalogue has stated that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has the capability to issue 1,000 new afforestation licenses in 2024, as part of the Forestry Licensing Plan, which aims to facilitate increased planting. He emphasized the importance of engaging with farmers to highlight the complementary nature of forestry and agriculture, while building confidence in the various forestry options available to them. The new afforestation scheme offers landowners a choice of 12 forest types, along with premiums and grants to support their decision-making process.

Since the opening of the new scheme in September 2023, the department has already approved 1,599 hectares of afforestation, according to Minister McConalogue. In January 2024, DAFM issued 45 thinning licenses and 205 clearfell licenses. This represents a notable increase compared to the previous year, which saw 18 thinning licenses and 183 clearfell licenses granted during the same month. Additionally, under the Native Tree Scheme (NTAS), 69.54 hectares have been planted so far this year. Furthermore, the Reconstitution of Ash Dieback Scheme (RADS) has seen the planting of 1,211 hectares in 2024.

Minister McConalogue acknowledged the significant impact of ash dieback and stated that Minister of State Pippa Hackett is currently preparing an action plan to address the issue, which will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. The plan will outline comprehensive actions to be taken by the department in response to ash dieback. The minister assured that careful consideration is being given to ensure an efficient, appropriate, and proportionate response, while also ensuring the preservation of biodiversity on affected sites.

In conclusion, Minister McConalogue is determined to meet the annual afforestation target and is confident in the department’s capacity to issue a sufficient number of licenses. The new afforestation scheme offers landowners a wide range of options and incentives to encourage increased planting. Furthermore, efforts are being made to address the issue of ash dieback through the development of a comprehensive action plan, which will prioritize the preservation of biodiversity.

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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