I’d like to plant a five-acre area with native deciduous trees. Are there any grants for non-farmers and as such who qualifies?
New Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020, a new State support programme for forestry, was recently announced by the Minister of State Tom Hayes, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It consists of 11 measures including grant, premium and other support schemes for landowners and farmers to establish and maintain forests. It has an allocation of approximately €111 million for 2015.
Unlike the last forestry programme, the New Forestry Programme 2014-2020 does not differentiate between farmer and non-farmer premium rates. A unified forest premium rate will now be available to all approved applicants. However, the premium payments have been reduced from 20 to 15 years. By way of compensation, these new premium rates have increased by approximately 20 per cent.
Accordingly, subject to eligibility requirements and approval by the Forest Service, you would be entitled to the same grant and premium rates as a farmer for your project. To date the most popular Grant and Premium Category (GPC) for those planting less than eight hectares has been the 3-10 Diverse Conifer GPC.
As you are interested in planting native deciduous trees you might consider the Native Woodland Scheme (NWS) which is included in the above Forestry Programme 2014-2020. The objective of the NWS is to protect, enhance and expand Ireland’s native woodland and associated biodiversity. The maximum grant for NWS Establishment is €5,750 per hectare and the premium rate is €635 per hectare per annum.
These new woodlands must reflect the native woodland type identified as being most appropriate to the site. In relation to this and other matters please refer to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine web site: agriculture.gov.ie/forest-service/
By way of caution it should be noted if you do afforest your land it will be subject to the replanting obligation. This implies that the said land must remain under forestry indefinitely. Afforestation on quality land generally devalues the underlying land. In addition it may have consequences in relation to future planning or zoning potential. In this regard you should consult with your local rural surveyor, planning authority, Forest Service Inspector and other professional advisors.
Tom McDonald is chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (MediKids) Rural Practice Surveying Professional Group