IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally has called on Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle to intervene as a matter of urgency to address the crisis with forestry licences.
“The logjam with forestry licences, particularly for felling, is having a serious impact on farmers’ ability to manage their forests properly. Many have been waiting in excess of 12 months for a licence. With spiralling costs, it’s making many farm forestry operations commercially unviable.”
“Farmers are exasperated with the lack of progress and with the increasing costs associated with getting a licence. The situation is a mess”.
He said the new Interim Standard for Felling and Reforestation has further complicated the situation.
“The standards, which were published without consultation with stakeholders, lack an understanding of the practicalities of managing harvesting operations in small farm forests. They place a disproportionate level of responsibility on farmers and will mean that some forests will not be harvested in the future.”
He said that since the standard has been introduced, forestry consultants and companies are charging farmers in excess of €500 to apply for a felling licence. “And the costs keep mounting, with more and more farmers required to complete a Natura Impact Statement or an ecologist or archaeologist report to get a licence,” he said.
He cautioned that unless the Minister takes immediate action to reduce the level of red tape and costs associated with managing farm forests, the planting target of 8,000 ha per annum set out in the Climate Action Plan will not be achieved.
“If the Government is serious about Climate Action targets, they must ensure that the system is farmer friendly and that the Department has sufficient resources to make decisions on licences without constantly requiring external professional expertise and piling costs on farmers.”