Green Light: DAFM Grants 2,000ha of Afforestation Licences

DAFM Issues 243 Afforestation Licences Covering 2,008ha in 2023, Reflecting Steady Progress Compared to Previous Years

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has issued 243 afforestation licences relating to 2,008ha so far this year, in line with the first six months of 2022 when licences for 2020ha were issued. This marks a significant improvement from the same period last year, when only 136ha were granted. The Forestry Licencing Plan 2024 estimates that 1,000 afforestation applications are needed to meet planting targets.

The latest Forestry Dashboard, published by the department, reveals that 359 valid afforestation applications had been submitted up to last Friday (June 21). The department data shows that 656ha of land had been afforested up to June 21. DAFM notes that this figure reflects afforestation that has been paid at the first grant stage this year, including the Native Tree Area Scheme (NTAS).

Reacting to the figures, the Social, Economic, Environmental Forestry Association (SEEFA) expressed disappointment, stating that it has taken almost six months to achieve what should be the average monthly pace. SEEFA criticized DAFM for mismanagement of the sector, citing years of insufficient licensing and ineffective marketing and promotional efforts. Landowners and farmers are reportedly ready and willing to plant, but lacklustre incentives, barriers to planting, and licensing uncertainty are causing unnecessary obstacles, according to the organization.

In 2022, 2,273ha of forestry was planted, a figure that dropped to 1,652ha last year. Forest cover in Ireland currently represents 11.6% of the total land area, significantly lower than the EU average of 38%. The government has set an annual target of planting 8,000ha of new forests to increase the national forestry area to 18%.

The latest DAFM figures show that 895 felling licences relating to almost 10,800ha had been issued by June 21, including 544 private licences and 351 for Coillte. In the week up to last Friday, the department issued 11 thinning licences for 199ha and 56 clear fell licences covering 523ha. Additionally, 453 licences have been granted this year for 166km of forestry roads.

The data also indicates that 250 NTAS applications have been issued for 273ha, while 155 applications (599ha) under the Deer Tree Shelter Scheme (DTS) have been approved. Furthermore, 444 applications submitted for the Reconstitution of Ash Dieback Scheme have been granted, covering 1,658ha. DAFM has received 29 afforestation appeals, tree felling appeals, and four forest roads appeals so far this year.

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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