The European Commission has given its approval to a €45 million Irish scheme aimed at promoting sustainable forest management. The scheme, which will be in effect until December 31, 2027, is part of Ireland’s National Forestry Programme and has been designed to support landowners in implementing economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable forest management techniques.
The main objectives of the scheme are to promote forest growth, protect biodiversity, soil and water quality, aid in the adaptation of forests to climate change, and enhance their ability to store carbon. The aid provided through the scheme will be in the form of direct grants, covering up to 100% of the eligible costs. Companies of all sizes in the forestry sector will be eligible to apply.
The European Commission has determined that the scheme is necessary and appropriate in supporting and strengthening environmental protection, including biodiversity and climate action, and contributing to the EU’s environmental and climate-related objectives. It has also concluded that the scheme will have a limited impact on competition and trade between EU member states. Therefore, the commission has given its approval to the Irish scheme under EU state aid rules.
This decision comes after the European Commission’s approval of another Irish scheme on August 2, which aims to support investments in afforestation. Both schemes are part of Ireland’s new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme for the years 2023-2027. The afforestation scheme is set to open for new applications in the coming weeks.
Under the new programme, premiums for planting trees will be increased, with rates of up to €1,142 per hectare, depending on the forest type. The premium period for farmers will also be extended from 15 to 20 years, while non-farmers will receive premiums for 15 years. The programme offers a wide range of planting options, and the rates are 46-66% higher than those previously available.
Overall, the approval of these schemes highlights Ireland’s commitment to sustainable forest management and its efforts to contribute to the EU’s environmental and climate-related objectives. By providing support to landowners and promoting the growth of forests, Ireland aims to protect its biodiversity, improve soil and water quality, and enhance its ability to combat climate change.