Minister Doyle meets FCI to discuss forestry licencing issues

Andrew Doyle, the Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, has met with representatives of the Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) to discuss ongoing issues in relation to forestry operations licencing.

The meeting was held today, Monday, December 23, with the FCI delegation being led by chief executive officer (CEO) Michael Moroney.

The group represents independent forestry contractors in Ireland.

During the meeting, the minister updated the FCI on the latest changes that have been made in the department’s approval process for forestry licensing.

Minister Doyle also acknowledged that independent contractors were facing difficulties as a result of a slowdown in licence approval for forestry operations.

He told the FCI representatives that “that everything possible is being done to alleviate the issues”.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said that the two sides also spoke about the future of the sector, including how unused felling licences, currently in circulation, could be harnessed to alleviate current issues.

The independent forestry contractor is central to the success of the Irish forestry sector and I am well aware of the importance of harnessing their considerable investment in skills and machinery.

“The inter-dependence of the forestry sector from the planter to the processor is key to its future success,” Minister Doyle commented after the meeting.

“From my department’s point of view, we are committed to continue working with the FCI on improving the issuing of new licences, and I want to assure all contractors that no effort is being spared in this regard,” he added.

‘Chaos is imminent’

Over the weekend, concerns were raised from another TD that “chaos is imminent in the forestry sector” if the necessary steps are not taken.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice noted: “Over the last eight to 10 months we have seen a situation develop where afforestation and felling licences have almost ground to a standstill.

“Much of the forestry machinery in the country – be it lorries, cutting equipment or forwarders – is on the brink of being parked up. Large repayments outstanding on these machines will mean owners and operators will be put in a situation where, unless they find felling work in other countries, they will go out of business,” Fitzmaurice warned.