Despite the many recent Government cutbacks in other areas, this year's forestry grant and premium rates are an acknowledgement by the Department of Finance of the contribution forestry makes to our economy.
hen compared with returns from other investments and because we are living in a period of deflation, premiums are attractive and unchanged.
The new figures for grant aid, despite alterations, are adequate to meet costs. The roading grant is particularly generous, so it should be availed of by anyone planning to thin their woodland.
The Forest Service is keen to see our broadleaves managed to achieve maximum profitability. With this in mind, it has retained the tending and thinning grants to encourage woodland owners to thin and re-space forests.
Given the buoyant demand for wood fuel, especially hardwoods, broadleaf thinnings at roadsides are selling readily. When combined with the grant, thinning can be carried out at no cost to the owner and can leave a profit, depending on the size of the stems and quality of the crop.
There are several sensible changes to forestry schemes, including an encouragement to use good-quality fencing materials. This is something new and applicants should note that the use of timber that complies with, or exceeds, the standard IS436 attracts an extra grant of €50/ha.
It is anticipated that 8,000ha will be planted this year. While this figure does not meet the previous target of 10,000ha, it still represents a major vote of confidence in forestry as a farm enterprise.
Anyone considering planting should immediately apply as all schemes will be reviewed in 2013.