A fully-funded tree planting scheme has opened for applications in Northern Ireland, and this time the focus is on forest expansion and small woodlands.
The Forest Expansion Scheme and Small Woodland Grant Scheme, part of Northern Ireland’s Forests for Our Future programme, aims to encourage landowners to plant their own woodlands and offers annual premium payments for 10 years.
Daera said the schemes, which opened for applications on Wednesday (15 June), can support all types of sustainable woodland.
The Small Woodland Grant Scheme is for new native woodlands of at least 0.2ha and is paid at £2,925/ha – 80% in the first year and the remaining 20% in year five.
A fencing grant is also available to secure the new woodland.
The Forest Expansion Scheme will support native woodland, mixed woodland or commercial conifer woodland that can best meet land owners’ business needs while contributing to a living, working, active landscape.
This grant is competitive, therefore priority projects will be those that maximise delivery of scheme objectives at minimum cost, offering best value for money.
Successful applicants may receive up to 100% of eligible costs, but Daera suggests that bids with lower costs may make an application better value for money and more likely to be selected for funding.
In 2021, landowners in Northern Ireland planted 525ha of new woodland with support from forestry grant schemes.
Northern Ireland’s agriculture, environment and rural affairs minister, Edwin Poots, has described this as “an encouraging response” to the country’s ambition to increase the level of afforestation needed to reach the targets set out in its Forests for Our Future programme.
“The reopening of our forestry grant schemes will enable private land owners and public sector organisations to bring forward new woodland creation projects for the forthcoming planting season,” he said.
Applications to the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to the Forest Service and the Small Woodland Grant Scheme via an online system, both by 31 August 2022.
Further details are available on Daera’s website.