1,836 forestry licences have been issued since the start of the year with 40% of the target of 4,500 forestry licences to be issued in 2021, reached on July 9, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The total includes 1,164 tree felling; 308 afforestation and 364 forest road works licences.
The afforestation licences cover 2,695ha of potential new forestry - an increase of 21% on the area licensed to the same date in 2020, and a 5% increase in the number of afforestation licences issued.
Forest road works licences covering 151km of forest roads have been issued to date which exceeds the Climate Action Plan target of 125km of forest roads licensed in 2021.
A total volume of 3.594 million cubic metres has been licenced, which is 71% of the total volume licensed in 2020.
The information was obtained in the Department's response to a Parliamentary Question by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara who asked that the Minister consider easing regulations around the granting of felling licenses in view of the shortage of supply and rising cost of timber.
"There is a lot of timber growing in Ireland and much of that is past the point of maturity,” added Mr McNamara.
“Many landowners across Clare are looking for felling licences; there is chaos in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, particularly in its forestry section.
"Small one-off builders and self-builders are important to the supply of housing in Ireland, particularly in rural areas.
“Accessing materials, particularly timber, is increasingly difficult as supply is limited and one of the main builder's suppliers in Clare is no longer stocking timber.”
Meanwhile, responding to the Co Clare public representative, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said that felling licences issued to the private sector had increased in recent months.
"In relation to the private sector supply, we have increased substantially the number of felling licences in recent months due to several system improvements and continued investment in ecology resources,” he continued.
“This has already resulted in June being the highest month for private felling licences in over five years."
“We have brought in significant legislation in order to assist with the ongoing situation in the forestry sector.
“I signed SI 417 of 2020 and SI 418 of 2020, and commenced the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 to bring in a range of measures largely to allow for a more efficient running of the Forestry Appeals Committee and to bring our systems in line with the planning process.”