7,000 hectares of new forests approved and ready to plant
Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett has welcomed the continued high output of new forestry licences this year, with licencing output 34% higher than the same period last year. The updated figures were contained in the Forestry Licensing Plan 2022 – Quarter 3 Update. The turnaround in forestry licencing shows that the 56% increase in new forestry licences last year will be further increased this year. The most recent increase in afforestation licences is a 47% rise compared against the same period in 2021.
The Department issued 3,629 licences to the end of September which is 92% of the target for this point in the year as set out in the Forestry Licensing Plan 2022. The number of applications received year-to-date is 2,658, which means that licenses issued are 40% higher than applications received. On afforestation, figures from the quarterly update show that there are currently 933 approved afforestation licences with just under 7,000 hectares ready for planting.
Minister Hackett said, “I welcome the continued high output in forestry licencing which builds on significant progress from last year. There is currently almost 7,000 hectares of land, approved and ready to plant. The backlog in licence applications continues to drop, with faster turnaround times for new applicants.”
A new Forestry Programme for the period 2023-2027 is in the final stages of development, and the Department is engaging intensively with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to finalise grant and premium rates for the new Programme, subject to State Aid approval from the European Commission.
Minister Hackett commented: “I am acutely aware of the need to announce grant and premium rates for the next Forestry Programme subject to Commission approval and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sanction as soon as possible, and I hope to be in a position to do so in the coming weeks.”
Headline figures from the Forestry Licensing Plan 2022 Quarter 3 Update:
1,180 new forestry licences issued in Q3. This is 90% of the target set in the plan for Q3 (1,313 licences). Licencing output YTD at 3,629 is 92% of the targets set in the Plan.
The number of applications on hand for processing has dropped from 4,801 at the end of 2021 to 3,133 in Q3 which is a net reduction of 1,668. This is inclusive of 1,580 new applications received in Q3.
1,580 new applications received in Q3, comprising 117 afforestation, 1,334 felling and 39 forest roads applications.
In relation to afforestation, the quarterly licensing output for the third quarter of 2022 is 238 licences, which is well ahead of the output for Quarter 2 of 131.
There are now 933 approved afforestation contracts with just under 7,000ha ready for planting.
In relation to felling, overall felling licence output YTD is on target (2,512 licences issued vs. 2,535 target). Private felling significantly exceeded Coillte felling in Q3. 472 vs 294.
Output of road licences YTD is at 93% of the output target.
3,629 licences have issued to the end of September or 92% of the target for this point in the year. The number of applications received YTD is 2,658.
Concluding the Minster said, “We have turned the corner with forest licensing this year. I am confident this progress will continue into 2023 with a new Forestry Programme that offers attractive new grants and annual premia to farmers and landowners.”