The Forestry Act 1946 created restrictions on felling of trees. This was replaced by the 2014 Act set out in a separate section. Certain species are exempt by Ministerial order from the requirements.
Certain categories may be exempted with departmental consent including:
- Trees which are not necessary for the ornament or protection of a holding in which it stands and which is stated in the felling notice to be intended to be cut down for the purpose of using the timber for the construction, repair of buildings, fences and other structures on the holding or another holding belonging to the owner or a neighbour.
- A tree which is not necessary for the ornament or protection of a holding which is intended for domestic fuel on the holding on which it stands.
- A tree which is dead, decayed or remedially damaged or useless for commercial purposes.
The general position is that it is not lawful to uproot a tree over 10 years old or cut down a tree unless that less than 21 days notice and not more than two years before notice of the proposed felling is given to the Garda in charge of the Garda station nearest to the tree.
The notice must be in writing in a prescribed form and set out details at the owner and certain prescribed details. It is an offence to approve a tree in contravention of the requirements.
There were exceptions:
- Where the tree is uprooted or cut down by the party undress felling licence;
- Where it is on State land line;
- Where it is in an urban district (under local government legislation);
- Where it is standing within 100 foot of a building other than a wall or temporary structure;
- Where it is certified by the local authority as dangerous to traffic on account of age or condition.
Where the felling notice proposes to transplant a tree it is an offence to deal with it otherwise.
Where a felling notice been given the Department of Forestry may within 21 days of notice being given serve a prohibition notice prohibiting the uprooting or cutting down of the tree. It is an offence to cut down or uproot a tree a tree in breach of the prohibition notice.
Alternatively the Department may grant a limited felling licence. This may be granted for a period of two years. It may be subject to conditions. In particular replanting and preservation conditions may be provided.
A condition may be attached requiring contribution to the expenses and administration of the public services relating to forestry. Some of the reason having regard to the expense which the licensee would have if replanting conditions were attached have to incur.
The Department may suspend or terminate a licence if they believe it is being abused. The Department may not refuse an application for a felling licence in respect of a tree solely for the purpose of preserving annuities unless the planning authority consents.
Where early notice has been given for an exempted tree and a period of 21 days has elapsed without a prohibition order or a limited licence it shall not be lawful to deal will the tree or any part of it other than for the purpose stated in the felling notice. Where felling notice has been given in respect of an exempted tree conditions may be imposed requiring replanting or planting on other lands and requiring preservation of trees or replanted trees (a protection order condition).
The Department may ground a general felling licence which may permit:
- Uprooting of trees in any specified wood in the ordinary course of pruning in accordance with general practice of good forestry;
- Uprooting and cutting of trees for the purpose of clearing with a view to replanting;
- Uprooting or cutting trees in the ordinary course of good forestry practice for the purpose of clearing with a view to replanting.
A general felling licence may be terminated. Replanting and preservation conditions will generally apply.
It is an offence to damage or injure a tree in contravention of the legislation. Where a person is convicted of an offence the Minister may impose replanting orders.
Replanting and preservation orders and conditions affecting land may be registered in the Land Registry so to affect the land and future owner.
There was provision for a limited internal appeal against decisions of the Minister under the legislation. Reference is made to a referee.
Where the Department is satisfied that tree or tree plants growing in the State are being damaged or likely to be damaged by rabbits or vermin of land in the vicinity of the land the Department may serve a notice requiring rabbits or vermin be destroyed or effective steps be taken to prevent the damage.
If the infested land is unoccupied or the occupier refuses to act the Minister may authorise steps to be taken to enter the land, kill and take the rabbits or vermin or otherwise take remedial action. Vermin for the purpose of this provision includes deer or wild animals other than hares likely to damage trees or plants.
There is other provision whereby the Department may make an order permitting a person who is either owner or occupier to take in and destroy hares on infested land during a period not exceeding six months. There are similar provisions whereby if the land is vacant or owner or occupier fails to act the Department may authorise persons to enter the land, take and destroy the hares notwithstanding other protective wildlife legislation.
Is not lawful to burn vegetation within one mile of a wood which is not the property of such a person unless that not less than just seven days before such burning of vegetation notice was given to the owner of the wood and to the Garda at the nearest Garda Siochana station.
Where the Department is satisfied that a wood is liable to be damaged by fire originating on uncultivated land adjoining the wood by reasons of the presence of vegetation the Minister may serve a notice to the effect the vegetation constitutes a potential danger to the wood and require that it be removed or sufficiently destroyed. If the land is unoccupied or the owner does not take action on foot of it the Minister may authorise that the land be entered and remedial action taken.
The Department can require saw millers to make a return relating to the supply, volume and variety of timbre swan and converted during a period. Information and particulars can be required regarding the source, volume and variety of the timber exported. The Minister or Department may acquire commonage land (1956 Act). The requirement to give notice does not apply in respect of the above-mentioned categories: county borough etc. Conditions may be imposed in relation to such trees under planning legislation or otherwise under the legislation.
Income from certain forestry-based activities enjoy favourable taxation treatment. See our section on taxation exemptions and incentives.
The Forestry Act 1946 gave the minister powers in respect of forestry management. This includes power:
- To take and acquire land on lease including buildings required in connection with the powers;
- Provide aid in making enquiries, experiments and research relevant to promotion of forestry, teaching of forestry, publication of such results;
- Making or aiding enquiries thought necessary to secure the adequate supply of timber in the State or promoting sale, utilisation or conversion of timber or fostering the establishment or extension of woodland industry.
Authorised officers of the Department may inspect any land for the purpose of prospective exercise of powers.
Easements may be created or extinguishment as necessary in connection with the exercise of forestry policies. Provisions for assessment of compensation apply in respect of acquisition of land or easement.
Temporary rights of way can be required for the transportation of timber. They may be exercisable for upwards of 12 months. Compensation is payable after grant of temporary right of way. Lands must be cleared of any materials deposited before being redelivered to the owner.
There are significant restrictions on cutting down trees. In this context cutting down means coming through the trunk at a height of less than six feet to the extent that the tree falls or is rendered liable to fall under the influence of natural entity.