IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally is calling on the Minister for Agriculture to introduce the environmental grant immediately, to support farmers with the cost of getting a felling licence.
“Farmers need to see delivery on the recommendations in Project Woodland,” he said.
The latest figures from the Department make for stark reading and again show the need for a radical overhaul of the existing licence system if there is any chance of clearing the backlog.
In March, 193 forest licences were issued, which was down 29% on February and 45% on January.
Of the 193, 140 were issued to the private sector and 53 issued to Coillte. The breakdown is as follows: 52 afforestation licences, 48 forest road licences and 40 felling licences.
“Despite the additional resources, we’re not seeing the pick-up in the granting of licences. It’s devastating for farmers who are still waiting to manage their forests, and whose investment is losing value while they are forced to wait.”
Vincent Nally said that ecology continues to be a major pinch point in the system.
“The Minister must introduce an environmental grant to support farmers with the cost of getting a felling licence immediately. This should be piloted on the private felling licences that are caught up in ecology,” he said.
He said that the Department continues to prioritise afforestation applications, but it’s the farmers who have already invested their land that need a felling licence and supported through a grant.
“Farmers with forests ready for thinning cannot wait for the recommendations in Project Woodland to be delivered. Too many hectares of productive private forestry will be lost while they wait for the bureaucratic red tape to be fixed,” he said.