Project Woodland Regulatory Review Report Lacks Vision to Create Workable Forest Licencing System

IFA Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming is very concerned by the lack of vision in the recommendations in the Project Woodland Regulatory Review report to create a workable licencing system for forestry at farm scale.

“It is hard to see from the recommendations put forward in the report that farmer confidence in forestry as a viable land use will be restored”, said Jason Fleming.

“I am particularly disappointed with the recommendation to maintain the licence requirement for thinning operations, despite multiple examples being provided in the report that this is not the case in other European countries,” he added.

He said such reform would have significantly reduced the pressure on the system and allowed farmers to manage their forests according to a forest management plan and the principles of sustainable forest management.

“The report does recommend that procedures are introduced to ensure that forest road applications are considered in parallel with any associated applications for afforestation or thinning licence,” he said.

The IFA National Forestry Chair recognised that this is important as there are many forest owners that have received felling licence approval but are still waiting on forest road approval, which is causing huge frustration and delays realising the value of their investment.

“To be honest there was nothing substantive in the report to address farmers concerns regarding forestry or that would reform the regulatory system to support planting at the scale required to meet the Climate Action Plan 2021 targets,” he added. If anything, the concern would be that some recommendations would further limit and restrict the planting and management of forests in Ireland,” Jason Fleming concluded.

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