The Department’s Forest Division August Report:
- 137 ha of new forests were established in August. The total afforestation programme so far in 2020 is 1,818 ha, this represents a decrease of 35% on the area planted by this date last year. As of August, €6,184,943 had been paid out under the Afforestation and Woodland Creation scheme.
- €54,493,891 paid in forest premiums.
- 69,315 linear metres of new forest road have been constructed year to date, this represents a 35% increase in linear metre constructed from this date last year. The total grant aid paid out under the Forest Road scheme is €2,797,124.
- 121 new felling licence issued in August, to thin 1,175 ha and clearfell 1067 ha. The total licences issued so far in 2020 is 1,021 to thin 4,527 ha and clearfell 6,449. This is a 72% decrease on the number of licences that issued to date in 209.
Activity since last National Council
- The Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 was signed into law by the President . The Act will enable the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) to sit in divisions to determine appeals, procedures and arrangements for conduct of appeals by the committee and the payment of fees in respect of appeals. The Act was passed thanks in part to the coordinated efforts made by forest owners through submissions and representation to TDs.
- IFA issued a press release reiterating the need for a forestry appeals system that is fit for purpose in support of the amendment to the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020.
- IFA met with Minister Hackett to outline farmers frustrations with the current bureaucracy and costs associated with growing and managing trees. Other issues discussed; reform of the forest licences system, poor afforestation rates and farmers disaffection, replanting obligation, reintroduction of farmer premium differential, lack of compensation for forest owners affected by ash dieback, plant health risks, producer group support, implementation of the Mackinnion report, expansion of KTG’s, biomass supports and carbon credits
- IFA Farm Forestry committee met on 17th September, topics discussed included recent meeting with Minister Hackett, forestry licence system, plant health and IFA/ESB compensation agreement.
- IFA issued a press release to highlight risk to the health of the national forest estate due to timber shortages; a result of the forest licence crisis and the importation of logs from countries infected with bark beetle.
- IFA wrote to the Department on the following issues:
- To outline serious concerns for the health of the national estate following media reports of the importation of logs from Germany which has recorded a bad infestation of bark beetle.
- Seeking a Frost Reconstitution Scheme for forest owners, the fluctuating winter temperatures have caused significant damage to plantations and has even affected well established trees.
- To outline farmers frustration with the active discrimination against small forest owners as set out in the forestry licence project plan and to seek the introduction of a planning grant to assist farmers with the cost of applying for a licence.
- IFA attended the first meeting of the COFORD Ecosystem Services Working Group, the objective of the group is to report on and promote the wider benefits of ecosystem services of forestry to the forest sector and society in support of increased afforestation, forest management and national forest policy.
- Farm Forestry Management committee had online meeting with President to outline the pertinent issues impacting the sector including: forest licence and appeal system, ash dieback scheme and the implementation of the Mackinnon report.
- IFA has written to Minister Hackett to request a formal meeting with official to outline proposals to reform the forest licence system and introduce additional income support measures under the Reconstitution & Underplanting scheme (RUS) for ash dieback.
- Intensify campaign to increase awareness of the issues in the forest licence system to adopt IFA’s proposals to ensure the prompt issuing of forestry licences.
- To develop ash dieback income compensation model based in the TB compensation arrangements and other Department schemes.