The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has re-organised its forest activities into four workstreams, focusing separately on the licensing backlog, a vision for forestry, a fit-for-purpose organisational structure, and streamlining the licensing process for the future.
This re-organisation was recommended in a new report on implementation of the 2019 Mackinnon report on reforming forestry licensing.
Prepared by Jo O’Hara, FutureArk Ltd (a former Chief Executive of Scottish Forestry), the new report chronicles the significant increase in appeals against licensing decisions, and declining confidence in the Irish forestry sector in the first half of 2020.
It says delayed felling licensing has seriously threatened business continuity along the timber supply chain, but the situation started to improve at the end of 2020, after “impressively swift” legislative changes, a substantial increase in specialist staff, and strengthening of the Forestry Appeals Committee.
However, the O’Hara report says the DAFM now needs to swiftly address weaknesses in project management and communications, and establish a clear pathway to delivery of the Mackinnon recommendations.
The O’Hara report calls for “particular clarity around scope; accountability and governance; objectives; deliverables; and monitoring and reporting”.
Project Woodland is the new title for the re-organised forestry strategy.