Lowest planting in Tipperary for Years

July 27, 2021

Article by Noel Dundon, 26 Jul 2021 Email: nd@tipperarystar.ie

**Timber to remain scarce, construction materials prices rise as Dept of Agriculture struggles with two-year backlog of forestry licences ** Planting of trees in Tipperary plummeted to all time low of just 12 hectares last year compared to 1,195ha in 2001 and forestry licences are taking almost two years to process, even as a timber shortage continues to drive up prices of construction materials according to data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the licensing body for all commercial forestry activity in the country.

Just 40 licences were issued for afforestation projects in June for the entire country, another 58 licences were issued for forest road projects, and 317 licences were granted for tree felling.

Separately, recent figures also showed that licences for 899 afforestation projects, 573 forest roads and 4,487 felling projects still await decisions from the DAFM. There remains huge concern within the industry that this current rate of issuance of licences means that, for applications already received, the department will need over 22 months to clear the afforestation backlog; 10 months for licences needed to build roads for the transport of logs; and 14 months for felling licences.

Mark McAuley, the director of Forest Industries Ireland, said that the industry wanted to highlight the massive backlog of licences that remains in the department, he said “The hugely bureaucratic approach and resulting processing times mean that the whole forest sector continues to be starved of afforestation projects and timber for the sawmills.”

“Everyone is caught up in this – from the farmers, all the way to the builders merchants, who are short of the timber they need to supply Ireland’s housebuilders. This is a two-year-old problem that isn’t going away, and it won’t go away until the department revises its approach. Growing managed forests is also one of the most effective ways of removing harmful C02 from the atmosphere especially as we have the fastest growing trees in Europe and our trees literally hoover it up as they need it to grow.”

In 2020, just over 2,400 hectares were planted, compared to over 15,000 hectares planted in 2001. Timber prices have risen sharply since the construction industry returned from lockdown, and the problem has been exacerbated by supply problems across Europe.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​