Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Government ups grant and premium rates for forestry as planting lags targets

  • 7% increase in all broadleaves and diverse conifer grant categories
  • 5% increase in all broadleaves and diverse conifer premium categories
  • New deer fencing provision of €16.25/m
Planting of broadleaf trees are falling below the 30% target
Planting of broadleaf trees are falling below the 30% target
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Government has approved new enhanced grant and premium for the forestry sector arising from the Mid-Term Review of the Government’s current Forestry Programme.

Andrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Forestry, has welcomed today’s decision.

He said it recognises clearly the contribution which forestry continues to make to the economy, environment and society in Ireland. The review is an extremely comprehensive exercise informed by detailed stakeholder consultations. 

"The changes recommended by the conclusions of the Midterm Review are primarily aimed at enhancing the environmental benefits of forestry while at the same time addressing the shortfall in key target areas.

"These measures address some of the key issues arising from our review of the Programme to date and range from improved rates for planting to measures to assist with mobilisation of the significant timer resource from private forest which will become available in next few years”.

The Report notes that total afforestation figures for the first three years of the Programme show that overall planting is some 7pc less than the cumulative target for these years and also that planting of broadleaf trees are falling below the 30pc target for this category.

The most significant improvements in grant and premium rates are aimed at those planting categories that may prove most attractive to farmers – such as Agro-forestry and Forestry for Fibre.

Agro-forestry will allow farmers to plant trees while continuing to graze their animals on the same land with this land use system suitable for producing woodfuel or, where appropriate, high quality hardwood timber.  The aim of the Forestry for Fibre scheme is also to facilitate production of renewable energy for either domestic or local commercial use.  

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While more traditional forestry has a rotation of approximately 35 to 40 years, the species planted under the Forestry for Fibre scheme have a rotation of up to 15 years, which equates to the number of annual premium payments for Forestry for Fibre – this means that a payment of €510 per hectare is payable each year up to the time the plantation is felled.

Summary of changes following adoption of midterm review proposals

Measure 1: Afforestation and creation of woodlands

Grant and premium increases

  • 7% increase in all broadleaves and diverse conifer grant categories  i.e. GPC4 to GPC 10
  • 5% increase in all broadleaves and diverse conifer premium categories i.e. GPC 4 to GPC 10
  • 2% increase in grant amount for GPC 1 to GPC 3
  • 2% in premium rate for all plantations greater than 10 hectares

The minimum mandatory requirement per site is increased to 15% broadleaves.

GPC = Grant and Premium Category

Forest Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme

  • New deer fencing provision of €16.25/m, for IS436 @ 140 m/ha
  • Upgrade deer fencing rates €8/m, for IS436 @ 140 m/ha
  • A contribution of up to €300/ha for tree shelters aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at protecting broadleaves in the category “Additional Broadleaves, ADB”
  • A contribution of €2.5/m up to a maximum of 140m per ha for forests that have been subject to hare damage after Form 2 payment and up to approval for Form 3 payment

Forestry for fibre

  • Number of premiums increased from 10 to 15
  • Premium rate per hectare increased to equal GPC3 (from €180 to €510)
  • Grant per hectare increased to match that of GPC 3 (from €2,450 to €3,815)

Agroforestry

  • Premium rate per hectare increased to equal GPC6 (from €260 to €645)
  • Grant per hectare increased to match that of GPC 3 (from €4,450 to €6,220)
  • Eligible for grants under Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS) for thinning, tending and pruning

All relevant GPC categories

  • Additional Fencing: IS436 increased to maximum grant of €600 (140m/ha)

Measure 2: Neighbourwoods

  • The scheme now open to applications throughout the year
  • Increased coordination and promotion of this scheme
  • Increased allocation will be made available to reflect the scale of works being undertaken within individual projects under this scheme

Measure 3: Forest Roads

  • Road density increased from 20m/ha to 25m/ha

Measure 5: Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS)

  • The WIS scheme will now be opened up to non grant aided broadleaf forests and all broadleaved mixtures that meet the required eligibility criteria.
  • Furthermore, all broadleaved forests, including mixtures will be eligible for 2 thinning grants of €500/ha.

Support for Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF)

This element of WIS is now open to conifer, mixed and broadleaf forests; successful applicants are eligible for three WIS payments (€750) for three separate interventions under the WIS scheme over a period of 12 years, once the work is in line with the approved transformation to CCF plan

Measure 6: Native Woodland Conservation

  • Increased grant available under the Public High Forest category to match that of the Private High Forest.
  • Access now allowed to forest fencing and tree shelter scheme.
  • Fencing allowances available under the Afforestation Grant & Premium Scheme now also apply to Native Woodland Scheme (Conservation)

Measure 7: Knowledge Transfer and Information Actions

Introduction of a national scheme for Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTG) focusing on the mobilisation of timber and biomass

Measure 10: Forest Genetic Reproductive Material

  • Seed Stand & Seed Orchard Scheme open for applications all year round.
  • Seed Stand Element
  • grant aid/ha increased to €750/ha (€600 first instalment and €150 for second instalment). Objectives changed to reflect lower expectations for Seed stands and 2-3 seed orchards each year for the remaining time of the programme.
  • Additional fencing grant allowance. For areas susceptible to deer damage and where deemed appropriate by the Forest Service, additional support for deer fencing will be provided to protect the stand. This will be paid in accordance with the rates and densities per hectare as described in the revised Afforestation Scheme document. However, if additional deer fencing is required, this will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Applications for Douglas fir, Scots pine, Western red cedar, and western hemlock will be considered

Measure 11: Forest Management Plans

A new Forest Management Plan and Certification Scheme is proposed which will support certification of privately owned forests.

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