Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Restrictions blamed for forestry slump

Worrying: the contined decline of the afforestation programme.
Worrying: the contined decline of the afforestation programme.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

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.

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Mr Fleming said key issues that need to be addressed in clude the reduction in productive forest area due to environmental requirements and also restrictions on the land eligible under the scheme.

Minister of State, Tom Hayes, said €19.76m in annual tax-free forestry premiums will be issued in the coming days.

He said the total value of forestry premium paid so far this year reaches almost €55m, with €75m to be paid by year end. An annual forestry premium of up to €635/ha for 15 years is available.

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