IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally told the Future Forests workshop today that the forestry regulatory framework, including the replanting obligation and licensing system, was the biggest barrier to forestry and is stifling forestry development at farm level.
“It’s time the Government started to listen to farmers, reformed the system and created a regulatory framework that supports planting and management at farm level,” he said.
IFA has surveyed other private forest owner organisations across the EU which showed that Ireland’s felling regulatory framework is the most rigorous of any country surveyed.
“None of the countries required private forest owners to apply for a felling licence. Most had a permit system that guaranteed a felling permit within a set timeframe. Others such as France required forest owners to submit a sustainable management plan that reflected the size of the forest. While German forest owners had a large amount of freedom, they were not required to apply for a permit or submit a management. However, they are legally obliged to manage forests sustainably”.
He added that private forest owners were not required to submit a Natura Impact Statement. In the main, appropriate assessment was only required when the forest was located in a Natura site or in an area of high conservation value, or the forest authority was responsible for the assessment.
“It is evident that private forest owners elsewhere in Europe have a proportionate regulatory burden. The requirements reflect the size of the forest and the type of operation, and is more about supporting private forest owners to manage their forests,” he said.
He concluded that if the Government is serious about planting and meeting the Climate Action targets, then all suitable land must be eligible for the scheme. The replanting obligation should be removed and a complete reform of the licensing system undertaken.