Premiums of up to €1,142/ha for planting trees will be available under the EU-approved afforestation scheme as part of Ireland’s new Forestry Programme 2023-2027. The European Commission has approved a €308 million Irish scheme to support investments in afforestation, which will open for new applications in the coming weeks. Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with responsibility for forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett, welcomed the decision, stating that it is a significant milestone in Ireland’s long-term vision to increase forest cover as part of the state’s Climate Action Plan.
The Forestry Programme 2023-2027 has been designed to ensure that planting trees can deliver multiple benefits, including farm incomes, climate action, biodiversity, water quality, recreation, rural economies, and the production of high-quality timber for construction. The programme offers increased premiums for planting trees, with rates of up to €1,142/ha depending on the forest type. The premium period has also been extended from 15 to 20 years for farmers, while non-farmers will receive premiums for 15 years. The rates are 46%-66% higher than in previous schemes, according to the DAFM.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, emphasized the importance of farmers in the success of the forestry strategy, stating that the new Forestry Programme is designed to attract and reward farmers ahead of other landowners. The government’s policy is to provide farmers with the greatest opportunity to benefit from the forestry payments that the programme can deliver. McConalogue expressed confidence that the new programme will reinvigorate the sector and support Ireland’s climate action targets. He acknowledged that confidence in the sector has been damaged but believes that this programme will be a turning point.
The DAFM will now study the details of the commission’s decision, complete the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment process, and open the scheme for new applications in the coming weeks. To ensure that all applicants are fully aware of the benefits and terms and conditions, the DAFM will conduct information and training workshops for stakeholders. Minister Hackett expressed her belief that this programme will be a key point in the history of Irish forestry, with practices like agroforestry and continuous cover forestry becoming mainstream. She encouraged farmers to seriously consider forestry as an option to complement their existing farming enterprises.
In conclusion, the EU-approved afforestation scheme under Ireland’s new Forestry Programme 2023-2027 offers significant premiums for planting trees, with rates of up to €1,142/ha. The programme aims to deliver multiple benefits, including farm incomes, climate action, biodiversity, water quality, recreation, rural economies, and high-quality timber production. The government is prioritizing farmers in this scheme, recognizing their importance in the success of the forestry sector. The DAFM will soon open the scheme for new applications and will provide workshops to ensure that all applicants are well-informed. Minister Hackett believes that this programme will mark a turning point in Irish forestry and encourages farmers to consider it as a complementary option to their existing farming enterprises.