Restrictions blamed for forestry slump
Concerns have been raised over the impact on the country's climate change strategy from a 30pc slump in forestry planting rates.
A report from the Forest Service shows 337ha of new forests have been established at a cost of €1.2m so far this year, down 30pc on the same period last year.
There were 246 applications approved to plant 1,975ha, a drop of 18pc on this time last year.
The IFA's farm forestry chair Michael Fleming said the fall was worrying with the emphasis on afforestation in the climate change strategy.
He pointed out the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 aims to establish 6,600ha in 2016.
However, based on the figures for February it could drop to "less than 4,500ha this year if the trend continues."
"The continuing decline in the afforestation programme is a worrying development especially considering the strong recognition in the Paris Agreement of the role of forests as sinks in mitigating climate change," Mr Fleming said.
He said an 8pc cut to forest premium and ongoing mapping issues have led to insecurity about forest premiums.