Afforestation levels remain low as only 1,636ha have been planted so far this year, according to the Forestry Licensing Dashboard by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

An area of 1,691ha has been planted during the first eight months last year, however this week’s figure is not yet included in the August dashboard. This means that 55ha would have to be planted this week to reach 2021 levels.

Despite the annual afforestation target of 8,000ha under Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, a total area of 2,016ha was planted last year, compared to 2,435ha in 2020.

Afforestation licences issued by the DAFM up until the week ending on Friday, August 19, allow for the planting of 2,724ha, compared to 2,889ha and 2,509ha in 2021 and 2020 respectively.

An area of 145ha has been planted so far this month, although licences have been issued for forests of 253ha, most recent Forestry Licensing Dashboard figures show.

During the same period, the DAFM issued a total of 30 afforestation licences; 36 road licences; 122 private felling licences; and 46 Coillte felling licences.

Image source: DAFM

Last month, licences for forests of 452ha were issued, which was a significant increase compared to 64ha and 155ha in 2021 and 2020 respectively, however only an area of 206ha was planted.

From the week ending Friday, July 1, until the end of the month, the DAFM issued a total of 78 afforestation licences; 78 road licences; 182 private felling licences; and 122 Coillte felling licences.

Felling and road licences

So far this year, licences for the construction of 213km of forestry roads have been issued by the DAFM, while 48km have already been constructed, including 11km in July and August.

Felling licences for a total area of 2,907ha at a volume of 561,910m3 were issued so far this month, according to the most recent Forestry Licensing Dashboard.

The monthly target for private licences, with input from ecologists, was met at 220 licences in July this year – these do not include Coillte felling licences, according to the DAFM.

Previously, the target was met last in September 2021 when 231 licences were issued to the private sector. The number of licences between February and June 2022 ranged from 148 to 170 per month.