Proposed Amendments to Afforestation Licence Don’t Go Far Enough

IFA Farm Forestry Chair, Jason Fleming has written to Minister Hackett seeking that the proposed amendment to the legislation to remove the afforestation licence is extended to permit farmers to plant both native and conifer trees, with the threshold increased beyond 1 hectare.

“For farmers to re-engage with forestry as a viable land use alternative, the system needs to support the planting of smaller woodlands of both native and conifer without the requirement of a licence,” Jason Fleming said.

A well-developed scheme that complies with environmental law and controlled by regulation would provide the same environmental protection as a licence but would streamline the planting process for smaller woodlands. 

“In 2021, farmers planted fewer than 400 hectares, or 18%, of the national planting programme,” he said.

“This clearly demonstrates that the current forestry model is not working and farmers are no longer willing to commit their land to forestry at the scale required to meet the climate action targets under the current system,” he added.

The Farm Forestry Chair also stated that if the Government is serious about meeting the afforestation targets in the Climate Action Plan 2021, and planting more than 8,000 hectares per annum, then the scope and ambition set out in the proposed amendment to the legislation are inadequate.

IFA have asked the Minister to reconsider the proposals and extend the amendments to permit planting of both native and conifer trees beyond the 1 hectare proposed.

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