€110 million has been allocated in Budget 2024 for forestry measures, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Minister McConalogue announced the funding allocation, stating that it represents the largest-ever investment by an Irish Government in tree-planting. The overall funding of €1.3 billion committed to the new National Forestry Programme for the period 2023-2027 aims to incentivize farmers to engage with tree-planting as an alternative income stream. The programme offers generous establishment grants, increased annual premia over a 20-year period, and a tax-free asset on maturity.
Farmers will also be able to continue receiving their Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) payment on land that is planted. The National Forestry Programme is a comprehensive plan to achieve the goals outlined in Ireland’s Shared National Vision for Trees, Woods, and Forests until 2050. The programme includes various actions and measures to promote sustainable forestry practices.
One notable scheme under the programme is the Native Tree Area Scheme, which allows farmers to create small native forests or native forests for water protection on their land. Farmers participating in this scheme can receive grant and annual premium payments over a 10-year period, totaling more than €22,000 per hectare. This scheme is particularly innovative and may appeal to farmers interested in trying out planting on a small scale.
Minister McConalogue also addressed the issue of ash dieback, a disease that has affected many farmers and landowners. He confirmed that support will be provided to those affected through the National Forestry Programme. Minister of State, Pippa Hackett, received the Report of the Independent Review on Ash Dieback group and stated that her department is working on addressing the recommendations outlined in the report. An Implementation Plan will be published once the necessary work is completed, and any expenditure implications will be considered in the context of the ongoing rollout of the Forestry Programme.
Minister Hackett emphasized the importance of forestry in achieving agriculture and climate change goals. The allocation of €110 million in the budget reflects the government’s commitment to promoting sustainable forestry practices and addressing the challenges posed by ash dieback. The funding will enable the vigorous pursuit of tree-planting initiatives and contribute to Ireland’s efforts in combating climate change.
Overall, the forestry funding allocation for 2024 is a significant investment in Ireland’s forestry sector. It aims to incentivize farmers, support those affected by ash dieback, and promote sustainable forestry practices. The government’s commitment to tree-planting and climate change goals is evident in this funding allocation, which represents the largest-ever investment in tree-planting by an Irish Government. With the implementation of the National Forestry Programme, Ireland is taking important steps towards achieving its shared vision for trees, woods, and forests until 2050.