Green Goals Falling Short: Forestry Planting Lags Behind Target at Less Than 10%

"Government Falls Short of Annual Forestry Planting Target as Only 9% of Goal Reached So Far"

The latest forestry dashboard reveals that the number of hectares planted this year has reached 716ha, just under 9% of the annual target set by the government. The aim is to plant 8,000ha of new forests to increase the national forestry area to 18%. The Social, Economic and Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) has highlighted the “severe underperformance” and “longstanding issues” facing the industry. According to the dashboard, published by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), 257 afforestation licenses relating to 2,117ha have been issued this year. The Forestry Licencing Plan 2024 estimates that 1,000 afforestation applications would be required to meet planting targets.

The department data reveals that 716ha of land had been afforested up to June 28. The figures for afforestation planted in 2024 only reflect afforestation that has been paid at the first grant stage this year to date, including under the Native Area Tree Scheme (NTAS). In terms of forestry felling, there have been 948 felling licenses issued so far in 2024, a decrease from 1,575 for the same period last year. Private felling licenses accounted for 563 out of the total 948 this year, while Coillte felling licenses made up 385 of those. SEEFA has expressed concern over the “alarmingly low” number of felling licenses, with the year’s performance falling significantly short of 2023’s achievements.

The dashboard also indicates that 460 licenses have been granted this year for 168km of forestry roads. SEEFA has pointed out that road licensing has “stagnated and will continue to do so” until afforestation licensing increases. The association emphasized the need for urgent reforms to revitalize the forestry sector, calling for enhanced incentives to plant, streamlined licensing processes, and a review of the forestry program before 2025. SEEFA stressed the importance of addressing these issues to avoid another year of missed opportunities in the forestry sector.

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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