It is Government policy to prevent deforestation, which is the permanent removal of forests. Reforestation after felling is essential to prevent deforestation, which would otherwise counteract the social, environmental and economic benefits of Ireland's afforestation programme and devalue the associated public expenditure on afforestation.
The Forestry Act 2014 sets out the legislation governing the felling of trees, the licences required, offences and penalties for breaches of the legislation. Where a forest owner wishes to remove trees, a felling licence is required and a condition of this felling licence is that the site must be replanted.
In May 2017 my Department published its “Felling and Reforestation Policy” document which aims to provide a consolidated source of information on the legal and regulatory framework relating to tree felling. Information on the felling licence application process is also described. This document also describes those limited scenarios where the permanent removal of trees is envisaged, for example, for the protection of certain natural habitats and species.