Ireland misses 2017 forestry planting target by 22%

Ireland missed out on its forestry planting target by 22%, according to figures released by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

This means that just over 1,600ha less forestry was planted in 2017, than originally targeted.

Minister Creed revealed the data in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on agriculture, Charlie McConalogue.

Commenting on the matter, Minister Creed said: “The National Development Plan 2007-2013 set out planting targets for the period 2007-2013 at 10,000ha per annum.

“The figure for 2014 is based on the maximum planting level achievable within the budget provided that year, which was 7,000ha. Targets for 2015-2020 are set out in the Forestry Programme 2014-2020.”

Just shy of 1,300ha of forestry was planted in the last three months of the year.

Since 2010, the only time a target was ever achieved, or surpassed, was in 2015. During that year the target of 6,000ha of additional forestry being planted was exceeded by 293ha or just 5%.

In 2016, the target was missed by just 160ha or 2%. Previous to both of these years, the target had been missed by considerable margins – ranging from 12% to 37%.

A difference of 22% in 2017 represents the largest margin since 2013, the figures show.

On the topic of forestry, Minister Creed has said: “Forestry is one of the many land use options available to farmers and land owners and the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme is one of a wide range of supports provided by my department.”

Coillte payment fiasco to be examined

The Coillte payment fiasco is set to be examined by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The chair of the committee, Fine Gael TD Pat Deering, confirmed that Coillte has been called upon to explain how payments failed to issue to landowners as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Deering expressed his concerns over Coillte’s admission that the state body harvested some landowners’ forests and did not pay them.

These landowners entered into partnerships with Coillte in good faith and in return for fair payment; and in some cases they have not been paid for years of harvesting.

“While I welcome Gerard Murphy’s statement admitting that this has been happening and that all payments are to be made in full in the next couple of months, I will be asking the committee to invite Coillte to appear before us once again as a matter of urgency to explain this situation,” he said.