Why you can't fire up your chainsaw anymore until paperwork is completed
Securing a valid felling licence is the first step whether felling or thinning trees, writes Steven Meyen
Where do you start if you want to fell trees on the farm? Not by putting petrol in your chainsaw but by filling out the necessary paper work. Thinning your forest, felling a tree on the farm or coppicing a woodland all have one thing in common: you have to have a valid felling licence in place before you start the work.
The Forestry Act 2014 replaced the Forestry Act 1946 at the end of May of this year and judging by the number of calls I'm getting, forest owners are not familiar with the new application form yet.
A felling licence is issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Once in place, it will allow you to fell or otherwise remove a tree or trees and to thin a forest for management reasons. A felling licence can be valid for up to 10 years and can be extended for another five years. There are exemptions where a felling licence is not required, but that is a topic for another article.
What is a forest?
Trying to define a forest is a good place to start. Under the Forestry Act 2014, forest land is defined as 'land under trees with a minimum area of 0.1 hectare and tree crown cover of more than 20pc of the total area (or the potential to achieve this cover at maturity)'.
Making a felling licence application
The felling licence application form is a six-page document requiring more detail than before. For instance, you will need to estimate the timber volume to be felled, the level of canopy closure and so on. This may sound like a daunting task but the excellent guidance notes make filling out this form pretty straightforward.
The completed form is sent to the Felling Section of the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) based in Johnstown Castle Estate in Co Wexford.