- There is a strong demand for timber currently due to strong global ongoing and backlog with felling licences. IFA have received quoted prices if in excess of €120 per tonne standing for sawlog and price rises are expected to continue this year.28
- In May, a total of 282 forest licences were issued compared with 195 licences in April. Of the 282 licences, 201 were issued to the private sector and 81 issued to Coillte.
- The breakdown of the licences that issued to the private sector is as follows: 47 afforestation licences, 75 forest road licence and 79 felling licences.
- The total number of licences issued in May 2021 represents a 31% increase in output compared with April.
- There are approx. 5,000 licences (afforestation, forest roads and felling licences) in the system pending decision.
- The DAFM dashboard provides addition information:
Activity since last National Council
- IFA undertook survey of private forest owner associations across Europe to understand the tree felling regulatory for private forest owners elsewhere in Europe. The findings shows that Ireland’s felling regulatory system is much more onerous, elsewhere in Europe private forest owners have a proportionate regulatory burden that reflects the size, the type of operation, and which guarantees approval within an agreed timeframe. The presentation provides further detail on requirements for Appropriate Assessments, Public Consultations and Formal Appeal processes across the various member states. See presentation enclosed.
- The findings of the survey were presented to COFORD Roundwood Forecast and Wood Mobilisation Working Group.
- The presentation was circulated to Minister McConalogue and Minister Hackett advisors as well as Project Woodland.
- IFA had meeting with Tim Lombard to discuss findings.
- The work of Project Woodland has been ongoing, with progress in the following areas:
- An independent Project Manager has been appointed to implement the operational changes.
- IFA has regularly participated and inputted into the Backlog Working Group that is charged with proposing solutions to reduce the backlog who are currently working on developing solutions which could reduce the backlog.
- IFA has provided support and advise to other representatives participating in other working groups.
- IFA prepared a lobbying document, Time for talk is over – Farmers need licences now, outlining five emergency measures to address the backlog.
- The system must guarantee that a farmer has to wait no longer than 4 months for a decision on forestry licence as set out in the Forestry Act 2014 Section 18(1).
- The system must be reformed to create a regulatory framework that supports planting and management at farm level.
- Forest road construction and thinning operations should be removed from the licence system and approved under a forest management plan.
- The current appropriate assessment (AA) screening process, associated rules and thresholds must be reduced to reflect the size and scale of operations in farm forests.
- A cost-based planning support grant should be introduced, as referenced in the Mackinnon report, to assist with increased costs and requirements associated with applying for a felling and afforestation licence.
- The lobbying document was circulated to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in advance of DAFM appearance on 27th May on the ongoing issues facing the Forestry industry including licensing issues.
- IFA issued the following press releases:
- Seeking the introduction of an environmental grant for felling licenses to support farmers with the cost getting a felling license. This should be piloted on private felling licenses that are caught up in ecology.
- Appealing to people to be extra vigilant to avoid forest fires.
- Asserting 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.
- IFA was a panellist at RDS-COFORD Forest Futures to discuss forest licence issues, barriers to farmer involvement and opportunities to develop new income streams from carbon farming.
- IFA met with Coillte to discuss ongoing licencing issues, Project Woodlands, right of ways, Farm Partnerships and selling timber by volume rather than weight.
- IFA made representation to DAFM on changes to the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS) and the notification of the requirement to get planning permission from the Local Authority when replacing ash forest with conifer species. This requirement has its basis in the Planning and Development Act 2000 and Planning and Development Regulation 2001.
- IFA met with Forestry Industry Transport Group to discuss changes being made to the forest certification standards.
- IFA attended first meeting of the Steering Committee for study on private forest certification in Ireland.
- The National Farm Forestry committee met and elected new Management committee.
Any EU/COPA developments
- Copa-Cogeca launched a new information campaign along with the Confederation of European Forest Owners and the European Landowners Organisation. The campaign is a series of video clips from forest owners from multiple Member States where they invite viewers to their forests to hear about what being a forest owner is like, what challenges they face, what objectives they have when it comes to forest management and what keeps them motivated
- Continue work to secure changes to the licencing system and clear the current backlog.
- Campaign for changes to the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS) to adequately compensate farmers for financial loss due to the disease.
- Increase awareness of the phytosanitary risks due to increased importation of timber.