Forestry Act comes into force, with a focus on felling

The commencement of the Forestry Act 2014 came into effect yesterday (Wednesday, May 24). It was announced by Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for Forestry.

New forestry regulations, giving the regulatory basis for various forestry activities such as the licensing of felling, afforestation, aerial fertilisation and forest road construction, have also come into effect from Wednesday.

In the announcement, Doyle said: “The Forestry Act 2014 is an important piece of legislation, which will make a significant contribution to the development of forestry by providing a more flexible system for regulating forestry activities, in general, and the felling of trees in particular.

The [previous] Forestry Act, 1946, while it has endured and served us well for 70 years, was in need of an overhaul.

“I am confident that the new Forestry Act, which provides for the making of regulations over the whole spectrum of forestry activity, will facilitate the development of our national forest resource and industry – both at a local level which is primarily rural-based, and at a national level in terms of its contribution to the economy,” he stated.

One of the key changes brought about by the act – and its associated regulations – is the streamlining of the felling licensing system. As of May 24, 2017, there is now a single licence process for tree felling, extended duration of felling licences and an expanded list of exempted trees which do not require a felling licence.

In addition, the act brings in tougher penalties for the illegal felling of trees – with the objective of maintaining the area of existing forest and helping to prevent deforestation in the future.

Doyle further commented on the new act, saying: “It is important that the regulatory framework for forestry facilitates the development of the industry in a manner which is consistent with the objectives of environmental protection.

While the state already derives significant benefits from our forest resource, I believe that our forestry sector still has enormous potential in terms of the economic, environmental, climate change, recreational and tourism benefits that it can deliver.