Project Woodland Fails to Make Significant Progress

IFA National Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming has expressed frustration with the progress of Project Woodland following the publication of the independent regulatory review report last June.

“The report commissioned by Project Woodland gave few recommendations to improve the forestry licensing system or to address the concerns of farmers. But what is equally frustrating is the ongoing lack of progress made in addressing the key issues in the forestry sector which has brought the whole sector to its knees,” Jason Fleming said.

Project Woodland was established in February 2021 with the objective of identifying and overcoming issues impacting the forestry in Ireland and increasing the level of trees planted.

“It has been a year and a half since Project Woodland was set up. But in those 18 months we have seen little progress with the very same issues relating to the licensing system continuing to cause huge problems,” he said.

If farmers are to be encouraged to plant, the licensing system needs to be fully reformed to reduce delays in licence approval, allow for exemptions for general management practices such as thinning, introduce a single consent system and change the current AA screening process including the 15km radius zone, which there is no legal requirement for,” he added.

“Restoring farmers’ confidence in forestry is the only way we will see a reversal in the downward trend of forestry planting in Ireland. The Government has set out ambitious forestry planting targets as part of the Climate Action plan; they have absolutely no hope of achieving these unless the fundamental problems affecting the sector are addressed,” the IFA National Forestry Chair concluded.

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