Local authorities are now players in the forestry sector following the refusal by Galway County Council to grant Coillte planning permission to clearfell 850ac of forestry, the Irish Forest Owners (IFO) has claimed.

The IFO said the decision set a “dangerous precedent” and is a major cause of concern for small-scale forestry owners right across the country.

Galway County Council claimed that the Coillte application to clearfell the site of conifers and put in place nature restoration measures such as rewetting had the potential to environmentally damage connected sites in the Twelve Bens and Gurraun special area of conservation (SAC) complex in Connemara.

“The dangerous precedent created in this planning refusal means that local authorities across the country can restrict harvesting practices, impose limits on land-use activities and introduce additional bureaucratic hurdles that could hamper the ability of forest owners to effectively manage their lands,” the IFO stated.

“Furthermore, forest owners express concern that this may disproportionately burden small-scale operators, potentially driving them out of business and consolidating control of forest lands into the hands of larger investor-led investment funds,” the IFO added.


“The Department of Agriculture spent €9m last autumn recruiting ecologists to facilitate forestry licensing and now employs dozens of ecologists and should be best qualified to make forestry planting/felling decisions,” the forestry owners’ organisation maintained.

“Another statutory body becoming involved in the forestry process will inevitably add to the current forestry crises and it reinforces the case for a forestry development agency,” the IFO stated.

“At the heart of our concerns lies a commitment to both the preservation and sustainable use of our forests," remarked IFO chair Derek McCabe.

"We believe that effective forest management requires a balanced approach that considers forestry environmental conservation alongside the delivery of homegrown, sustainable wood products on to the market and the economic viability of forest operations.

“This is a delicate equilibrium which can be achieved with a dedicated single agency dealing with all aspects of forestry,” McCabe said.