Green Light: 900+ Hectares Cleared for Afforestation in 2021!

Department of Agriculture Approves 945ha for Afforestation, Marks Significant Increase in New Plantings

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has given the green light for afforestation on a total area of 945ha so far this year, according to the latest data. In the month of March alone, DAFM approved 268ha of new plantings, a marked increase compared to March 2023 when no new afforestation licences were issued. The Forestry Licensing Dashboard for the week ending on Friday, March 29, 2024, indicates that 273ha has already been planted this year. While the area approved for planting in 2024 surpasses last year’s total of 789ha, the output of licences remains relatively low.

To meet the government’s annual planting target of 8,000ha as outlined in the Climate Action Plan, DAFM would need to issue licences for approximately 667ha per month. In addition to the 123 afforestation licences issued year-to-date, 40 previously approved licences have been transitioned to the new scheme, enabling 269ha of plantings. Separately, under the Native Area Tree Scheme (NTAS), 118 applications have been approved in 2024, allowing for 122ha of plantings. The NTAS empowers farmers to plant up to 1ha of native woodland without a licence, or up to 2ha if they have a suitable watercourse along which to establish a riparian native woodland.

In the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, DAFM issued 253 road licences for the construction of 84km of new forest roads, along with 284 private and 212 Coillte felling licences. Collectively, these felling licences permit the felling of 5,832ha so far this year. During the past week, 39ha were approved for thinning operations, while 116ha were cleared for clear felling. Similar to afforestation licences, the number of road licences issued by DAFM has seen a significant uptick compared to last year, with only 22 licences issued by the end of Q1 2023.

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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