Forestry Reports

Forestry Council Report May 2024

  1. Market Review  
  • The Forestry Weekly Dashboard showed that as of the end of April 2024, 326 hectares of new forest have been planted and 21 km of forest roads constructed. Afforestation licences issued to establish 1,556 hectares under the Afforestation scheme and 160 under the Native Tree Area scheme. Eighty-three private felling licences issued compared with 39 Coillte felling licences. 

Figure 1. Forest Licensing Dashboard (Week 4 April 2024) 

  1. Activity since last National Council  
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) announced an Ash Dieback Action Plan, which includes an additional €79.5 million of funding to pay a new Climate Action Performance Payment (CAPP) of €5,000 per hectare to those impacted ash plantation owners who apply under the Ash Dieback Reconstitution scheme.  
  • The Ash Dieback Reconstitution scheme provides a €2,000 clearance grant and forestry.  
  • There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement with some farmers with older/larger plantations disappointed with the CAPP payment as it does not adequately reflect the financial loss incurred, while some farmers with younger/smaller plantation the payment provides some financial relief. Full IFA statement available here.   
  • The payment is available to all ash plantation owners that availed of the Ash Dieback Reconstitution schemes.  
  • The overall package for ash plantation owners is more than €230 million. 
  • Background information on the grant aided ash plantations including age profile, area, number of farmers impacted and area still within premium (see enclosed).  
  • On the 7th February new restrictions on importing logs with bark to the west of Scotland’s Pest Free Area (PFA) were introduced to reduce risk posed by the great spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans). A 35 km buffer zone will be put in place around findings of the D. micans bark beetle, under the new measures: 
  • Spruce timber moving under phytosanitary certificate will only be allowed to travel through the 35 km buffer zone between 1st October and 31st March, which is outside of the flying season for the D. micans bark beetle. 
  • During this period between 1st October and 31st March, the timber should not be stored in the buffer zone but can be loaded at ports.   
  • Phytosanitary certificates confirming that conifer timber is free from D. micans will not be issued within 35 km of a beetle finding. 
  • The Scottish Forestry have published a Pest Free Action Plan, showing maps of the different type of surveillance and monitoring that is ongoing within the PFA.  
  • In addition, every load of timber arriving into Irish ports is inspected, although farmers have voices serious concerns with regards to the level checks and physical examination of the logs on boats.  
  • A Forest Health Stakeholders Engagement Group was established, and first meeting held, the group will facilitate direct engagement between DAFM and Forest health stakeholders from the industry and interest groups and create a forum for discussion opinion and action. 
  • IFA wrote to Minister Hackett to seek assurances that farmers would be compensated if spruce bark beetle was imported due to the continuation importation of logs from Scotland. No response has been received to date.   
  • IFA Election Manifesto contains a few Local and European priorities, which include: 
  • Roadside Ash Dieback: IFA is seeking the introduction of a financial support package for farmers to manage diseased roadside ash trees. The support package should be administered by the Local Authorities, who would be responsible for coordinating the safe removal of the trees, by providing traffic management during the felling operation and grants to support farmers to hire relevant qualified professionals to safely fell these trees. 
  • Review of Forestry Programme 2023-2027: The condition on organo-mineral soils (peaty soils) as a condition under the Forestry Programme should be reviewed so that peat depth of less than or equal to 50 cm, subject to appropriate assessment screening, are eligible under afforestation scheme. 
  • Amendment to State aid guidelines: IFA is seeking the inclusion of aid in the form of an annual premium per hectare and compensation may be granted to cover the costs of income foregone and maintenance, including early and late cleanings, for a maximum period determined by the Member State, if a forest crop is infected with a disease/pest. 
  • IFA held a Forest Health field day in Cratloe, Co. Clare with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine on the 18th April. The focus of the event was bark beetles and Irish forestry, particularly the Monterey pine engraver.  
  • The forest day was attended by Billy Kelleher, MEP and Jackie Cahill, Chair of Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine.  
  • Minister Hackett the first meeting of the Forest Strategy Consultative Committee (FSCC) on the 26th March 2024. At the meeting there was a presentation on the Forest Strategy and the Forest Strategy Implementation Plan and progress update on the Forestry Programme 2023 to 2027.  
  • Several of the FSCC sub-groups provided updates including from the Afforestation Technical Working Group (ATWG).  
  • IFA attended the Teagasc Talking Timber event on 14th March in the Great National Ballykisteen Golf Hotel, Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary. 
  • IFA was invited to be a panellist at the RDS Finding Common Ground event Session 1: Forest Futures – Delivering System Services from Irish Forests on Thursday, 2nd May. 
  • IFA Farm Forestry committee met on the 7th February in the Farm Centre and 18th April at the Plant Health forest day in Cratloe, Co. Clare.  
  1. Any EU/COPA developments 
  • IFA wrote to Commissioner Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture to seek a meeting to discuss reviewing some of the conditions attached to the Forestry Programme 2023 to 2027 to increase the land available to forestry to support meeting the afforestation targets as set out in the Climate Action Plan.  
  • IFA will meet with Commissioner Wojciechowski in Brussels on the 23rd May 2024.  
  • IFA attended an online COPA meeting to discuss the Deforestation Regulation on 15th April 2024.  
  1. Upcoming issues  
  • Review the Ash Dieback Action Plan following publication to get a fully understand the other measures include the terms of reference of the Ash Dieback Taskforce.  
  • To attend the Department Agriculture, Food and Marine to plant health conference on the 8th May.  
  • IFA will meet with Commissioner Wojciechowski in Brussels on the 23rd May 2024.  
  • IFA will lobby on the Local and European forestry proposals outlined in the IFA Election Manifesto.  

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