The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today announced the opening of the latest phase of the Forest Expansion Scheme.
The Scheme, which is intended to encourage and support landowners who wish to plant their own woodland, is funded through the Rural Development Programme, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and DAERA.
Ben Searle from Forest Service said: “The opening of this, the fourth phase of our Forest Expansion scheme, is good news for landowners and the environment.
“Our forests are a hugely valuable natural resource. Our goal is to expand tree cover in Northern Ireland and sustainably manage existing woods and forests. This scheme aims to support and cultivate new woodland creation.
“In the past, the Forest Expansion Scheme has funded a range of applicants from private landowners to local authorities. It has aided a range of developments from commercial woodland to community retreats, on both agricultural and non-agricultural land.”
The Scheme will provide support for farmers and landowners to plant woodlands of five hectares or larger this coming winter.
Ben added: “To date, the Scheme has provided more than £1million of grant aid to support over 600 hectares of new woodland which will make a valuable contribution to the economy through production of wood for processing, enhancing the landscape, providing places for people to enjoy and an important habitat for wildlife.”
Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premia for a 10 year period. The Scheme is competitive, meaning that projects must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and that it favours bids with lower costs and which are part financed by the applicant.
Applications are scored higher by incorporating into their woodland plans services such as public access, storage of forest carbon to mitigate climate change, better wildlife habitat, larger woodland scale and planting on land with potential to mitigate flood risk.
There are two closing dates for the scheme; Friday 31 August or Friday 28 September 2018 for the 2018/19 planting season.
Applications that meet the eligibility criteria but are not selected for funding after the 31 August closing date will be carried forward into the second batch of applications submitted by 28 September.