Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Grants for up to 1,500ha of forestry up for grabs

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Grant aid for up to 1,500ha of new forestry is now available for farmers to plant during the autumn planting season, the Department of Agriculture has announced.

Minister of State, Shane McEntee, invited applications for new forestry planting this autumn in addition to the 5,250ha of forestry that has already been approved by his Department.

Grant rates paid to farmers range from €64/ac to €200/ac, depending on the type of forestry and the grade of land planted. However, the most common type of forestry is 20pc diverse forestry, which includes 80pc sitka spruce and 20pc hardwood.

Forestry plantings have fallen significantly in recent years due to budget cuts to grant aid and restrictions on land that can be planted.

Planting levels peaked in the mid-1990s at around 23,000ha per year, but this has fallen sharply to around 7,000ha in recent years.

Nonetheless, Minister McEntee said that investment in forestry remained a very attractive option for farmers and landowners.

Announcing the autumn grants, he said the first step in the process was the decision by farmers and landowners to plant trees.

"The Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes administered by my Department offer a grant to cover the cost of establishment and an annual tax-free premium for up to 20 years. Those who plant may also look forward to returns from thinnings and from the eventual clear-fell," he said.

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