We can’t see the wood, or the trees
Bureaucracy is slow by its nature and the lethargic delivery of a viable strategy to ensure that we plant upwards of 8,000 hectares annually is at odds with the expressed urgency of increasing our forestry area. In November 2022, Forestry Programme 2023-2027 was launched with a €1.3bn support commitment. First, it was the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s responsibility to complete a State Aid application and send it to Brussels. Then Brussels took its time, necessary I’m sure, in sanctioning the plan. If or when it is sanctioned, hopefully before the EU Commission goes into its annual summer slumber for the month of August, there will still be no planting of any scale this autumn or next year, for that matter. Notice must be provided of intention to plant, followed by a period for appeals, of which there is likely to be no shortage, and then we might see some trees planted. Provided the support mechanisms and tree type and other stipulations coincide with providing a viable return for the land being planted, we could expect some trees to be put in the ground by 2025, at the earliest. That’s a lot of fiddling around while the world burns.