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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Tamara Fitzpatrick

Forestry farmers asked to explain poor planting rate

The conversion rate from licensing to planting is very low

Farmers who haven’t used forestry licences they have been issued with have received a letter from the Department of Agriculture asking them to detail the reason they haven’t planted.

Over 450 landowners who haven’t yet used their forestry licences received the letter in recent days, which contains a blank page for them to detail their reasons for not having planted trees yet and return it to the Department.

In a separate communication to forestry advisors, the Department says the conversion rate from licensing to planting is very low and it has sent the letter and form to landowners to help address this.

“This low conversion rate means that a disproportionate amount of processing effort both by the Department and the sector does not result in planting.”

The Department says the information provided by the landowners will be used to help design future forestry schemes and it will look at whether there are any immediate follow-up actions or information it could make available which would address the concerns or reasons listed in responses.

The 451 landowners have licences that are more than six months old, which are approved to plant 3,800ha, according to the Department.

The letter asks those who have decided to plant the approved woodland to contact the registered forester who submitted their application.

“They will complete the simple process. After that, with good forest management, you can watch your investment grow, for your future,” the letter states.

The Department, in the letter, encourages farmers to use their forestry licences, with the letter outlining some of the benefits it might have, including annual payments for 15 years worth between €180-€680/ha planted per year, that the cost of planting the trees will be covered in full by the grant paid by the Department and they can likely keep their livestock numbers as is.

The conversion rate from licensing to planting is very low, while a disproportionate amount of time is being spent on the processing of these licences, according to Ann Cunningham, Assistant Principal Officer in the Forestry Division of the Department.

Improving this conversion rate is a priority for the Department.

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