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Date published: 23 June 2023

Forest Service has announced the reopening of two forestry grant schemes, designed to support landowners to plant new woodlands for environmental and economic benefits.


Forest Service has announced the reopening of two forestry grant schemes, designed to support landowners to plant new woodlands for environmental and economic benefits.

Forest Service Chief Executive, John Joe O’Boyle said the Forest Expansion Scheme and the Small Woodland Grant Scheme, which are now open, will also help tackle climate change.

“Planting new woodlands is widely recognised as having an important role in mitigating impacts of climate change. The trees absorb carbon as they grow and store it when the timber is processed into wood products, used for example in building construction. They can therefore play a part in helping us meet our net zero targets.

“Well designed new woodlands also enhance the landscape, environment, create new habitats and support farm business sustainability and contribute to our Forests for the Future project,” he added.

The Forest Expansion Scheme aims to encourage landowners to plant a wide range of sustainable new woodlands of three hectares and larger. Some landowners may wish to establish woodlands to produce timber primarily from conifer species, while others tend towards native woodland to enhance environmental and other characteristics of their holdings.

The Forest Expansion Scheme funds successful applicants for these woodland types at up to 100% of the establishment costs and annual premium payments for a 10-year period.

The Small Woodland Grant Scheme is particularly designed to support landowners to plant smaller scale new native woodlands that are at least 0.2 hectares in size.  The scheme funds planting of trees, new stock fencing where required and annual premium payments for a 10-year period.

“In making their applications, I would urge landowners to engage early with Forest Service or their forestry agent who can provide advice and assistance on suitable forestry proposals that best meet their objectives,” Mr O’Boyle said.

Landowners who wish to plant this Winter are reminded that all applications must be submitted to Forest Service before 3pm on Thursday 31 August 2023. Early applications are encouraged.

Small Woodland Grant Scheme applications must be submitted through DAERA Online Services by 10pm on Thursday 31 August 2023.

Further information including questions and answers is available from the DAERA website. This includes a How To guide for the online Small Woodland Grant Scheme application. Alternatively, contact Forest Service on 028 6634 3019 or email:

A list of Forestry Services and Suppliers that will help land owners to contact businesses for advice can be viewed on the DAERA website.

DAERA has launched Northern Ireland’s first ever consultation on carbon budgets, which set the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted in a given period. Download the consultation document. The 16-week consultation will run from 21 June to 11 October 2023.

Since ‘Forests for Our Future’ launched in 2020, landowners have planted 1,300 hectares of new woodland across Northern Ireland under forestry grant schemes support.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Forest Expansion Scheme establishment Grant is competitive and aimed at supporting those projects which maximise the forestry benefits. Successful applicants may receive up to 100% of eligible costs.
  2. The Small Woodland Grant Scheme establishment grant is paid at £2,925 per hectare, 80% in year 1 and the remaining 20% in year 5. A fencing grant is also available where necessary to secure the new woodland.
  3. Annual premium payments are payable over a 10-year period where eligible farm businesses convert land previously in agricultural use.
  4. Land that was eligible and on which Single Farm Payment (SFP) was paid in respect of the 2008 scheme year and is subsequently converted to forestry under an EU scheme remains eligible for the duration of the Forestry Scheme.
  5. The Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 sets a statutory target of Net Zero by 2050 and includes a number of requirements such as setting five-year carbon budgets to cap emissions. It specifies a requirement for a 16-week consultation on the first carbon budget.
  6. A carbon budget represents the total amount of emissions that may be emitted during a five-year period, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  7. The Act also requires the development, consultation on and publication of Northern Ireland’s first Climate Action Plan by the end of 2023. Some new policies, programmes, and approaches to decision-making on investment are needed to secure the necessary progress towards net zero. Work across all departments here to identify the sorts of policy changes that would be needed continues at pace so that returning ministers can receive advice to inform the decisions they will need to take to ensure compliance with the emissions targets contained in the Act.
  8. Follow DAERA on Twitter at and Facebook.
  9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office: or phone 02890 524619.
  10. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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