Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today called on landowners to help increase woodland cover across the north of Ireland by planting more trees.
The Minister was speaking after a visit to a woodland site at Drumlamph Wood, Maghera, County Derry, which received support from the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013.
Minister O’Neill said:
“Woodlands are a natural home to wildlife, plants and animals and provide many environmental, social and recreational benefits, as well as producing fuel wood or timber for construction. However, our local countryside is one of the least wooded areas in Europe and we are keen to address this. The Forestry Strategy aims to double woodland cover and these projects highlight the good work being undertaken by communities and farmers in support of this goal.
“At Drumlamph, the local Carntogher Community Association in partnership with the Woodland Trust has developed a woodland which offers opportunity for community engagement, learning and recreation.”
DARD provides support for the establishment of woodland cover through the Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. The Woodland Grant Scheme pays £2,400 per hectare for broadleaved woodland and £1,600 per hectare for conifer woodland.
For new farmer applicants and farmer applicants under the current Farm Woodland Premium Scheme open since January 2007, annual payment rates range from £60 up to £290 per hectare (or £117 per acre) per year and compare favourably with current conacre rates for grassland. They depend on the category of land to be planted and whether it is inside or outside the Less Favoured Areas (LFA), so check first before applying.
Funding is also available for the Short Rotation Coppice Scheme, and already farmers have created approximately 750 hectares of Short Rotation Coppice for an energy end use, under this scheme, and its predecessor, the Short Rotation Coppice Challenge Fund.
In conclusion, the Minister added:
“Schemes such as the Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme offer support to farmers and landowners interested in woodland creation, and I would encourage any of them with an interest in planting woodland to seriously consider the options available to them. It is only through a united effort that we can succeed in increasing our woodland cover.”
Those claiming Single Farm Payment (SFP) in 2008, can now also plant their land and continue to claim SFP in addition to their annual Farm Woodland Premium Scheme forestry payments.