A great idea at first but cash catch with FEPS will affect most owners
The Forestry Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS) is a wonderful initiative. It pays farmers an additional €200/ha along with the payments they are already receiving for planted areas of under 40ha, provided they comply with the requirements.
When launched, it was stated that FEPS would allow farmers to establish forests which were aesthetically pleasing and multifunctional with high recreational, wildlife and amenity value. In return, these farmers would qualify for a premium of up to €774/ha a year.
Great news but there is a snag: you can only be paid for FEPS while you are in REPS. One farmer who contacted me said that this is his last year of REPS 3 so the woodland that he planted in FEPS this year will only collect one payment, which won't cover the extra costs associated with the scheme.
Now that the REPS scheme has been abolished, the only growers who are going to get paid for the full five-year duration are those who were fortunate enough to get into REPS 4 at the last minute.