All you need to know about the latest forestry grants available

EIB will contribute €28.5m to forestry in Ireland.
EIB will contribute €28.5m to forestry in Ireland.

FarmIreland Team

Significant grant and premium payments are available to those thinking of switching their land use to forestry.

The National Forest inventory of 2012 estimated forest cover at 731,650ha or 10.5pc of the total land surface of the country. In terms of total forest cover the target is 18pc by 2050.

The current Forestry Programme, covering the period 2015-2020, ensures continued State support for the two key objectives of increasing forest cover and wood mobilisation.

Almost €500m of investment over the six year programme period will facilitate an increase in forest cover by almost 44,000 hectares over the period of the Programme.

Source: Teagasc
Source: Teagasc

The level of afforestation grant and premiums, allied to the tax treatment of income from forests provide good incentives for land-owners to plant a proportion of their holding.

Explanation of Grant and Premium Categories

Categories are determined by the category of land planted, the tree species and area planted. Teagasc has produced this simple guide:

Source: Teagasc
Source: Teagasc

GPC 1 – Unenclosed/Unimproved land:

Typically comprises of upland sites and marginal soils. The amount of unenclosed land in any application for financial approval cannot exceed 20pc of the total area.

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GPC 2 – Sitka Spruce/Lodgepole Pine:

Does not comply with scheme requirements in isolation and can only be approved as a component of a larger project comprising of other GPCs.

GPC 3 – 10pc diverse mix:

Comprises of a mix of Sitka Spruce/Lodgepole pine together with at least 10pc diverse conifer (approved conifer other than SS/LP). Broadleaves adjacent to roads and watercourses may also form part of this 10pc.

GPC 4 – Diverse:

Acceptable conifer species, other than Sitka spruce and Lodgepole Pine

GPC 5 – Broadleaf:

Acceptable broadleaf species other than Oak and Beech

GPC 6 – Oak:

Pure oak, however nurse species may be planted where additional shelter is required

GPC 7 – Beech:

Pure beech, however nurse species may be planted where additional shelter is required

GPC 8 – Alder:

Pure Alder; up to 10pc can be of other species for diversity

GPC 9 and GPC 10 – Native Woodland establishment:

This category supports the establishment of new native woodlands on ‘green field’ sites. Its focus is on native species, minimal site disturbance and long-term ‘close to nature’ management. It presents opportunities for planting in various environmentally sensitive areas e.g. NATURA sites. (Refer to Native Woodland Establishment Scheme Manual guidelines on native woodland types, species mixture and planting design)

GPC 11 – Agro-Forestry:

‘Silvopastoral agroforestry’, combination of forestry and pasture. Stocking rate of 400-1000 trees per ha; equally spaced with a minimum plot size of 0.5ha and tree to tree width of 20m. Acceptable species include oak, sycamore and cherry (other species considered). 80pc of costs covered. Grazing by sheep or young domestic stock is permitted during spring and summer for the first 6-8 years. Trees must be protected and tree shelters checked regularly. Tree shelters can then be replaced with plastic mesh and larger stock can be introduced. Silage and hay production is also permitted.

GPC 12 (a&b) – Forestry for Fibre:

This scheme supports the growing of productive tree species to produce wood biomass yields in the region of 150-300 m3/ha over 10-15yrs. Eligible species are: Italian Alder, Hybrid Aspen, Eucalyptus and Poplar (preference to improved genetic material). Trees are planted at a minimum of 2000 plants per ha (A reduced grant rate applies for Aspen which is planted at 1,400 trees per ha). This scheme does not fund short rotation coppice, Christmas trees or fast growing trees (cut every 9 years).

Other Forestry Schemes:

Forest Road Scheme

A rate of €40/m to a maximum of 20m/ha is available where 50pc or greater of the area is due for harvesting in the next 3 years (5 years for joint applications). Special construction works may be funded on environmentally sensitive sites up to max of €5000 per application or 50pc of costs whichever is lower.

Additional funding will be available where significant additional stone is required to build a bell mouth where it is at least 2 metres below the surface of the existing public road i.e. an additional equivalent length of 30m per entrance. Forest roads connecting to an existing forest road network in a public, state or private forest may be supported including portion of road outside property where there is agreement between owners. First instalment amounts to 90pc of total grant while 20pc of the forest must be thinned within 3 years of receiving the first instalment.

Woodland Improvement Scheme

€750/ha thinning and tending of broadleaves planted since 1980. A cost-based grant may be available for brashing operations to facilitate manual fertiliser application.

Reconstitution Scheme (Chalara)

Site clearance grant up to €1500/ha and replanting grants up to €5000/ha.

Reconstitution Scheme (Windblow)

Eligibility: conifer forests planted after 1 December 1989 and broadleaf forests planted after 1 December 1983. Maximum grant of €1700/ha up to a total of 10 hectares.

Eligibility - main points

  • Applicants must be over 18 years of age and hold a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). Companies must provide their company registration number (CRO).
  • All afforestation projects must obtain prior written approval from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine termed ‘Technical Approval’. A separate ‘Financial Approval’ is also required for grant aided projects before work commences.
  • Applicants for technical approval must be the owner, lease holder or joint manager of the land at the time of the application. (Exceptions where owner is deceased or owner consents in writing)
  • An application for technical approval under the Aff orestation Scheme must be made by the applicant and a Registered Forester following a site visit and assessment by the Registered Forester.
  • Land must remain under forestry and therefore is subject to a replanting obligation for all grant categories outlined above.

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