Forest Expansion Scheme opens

Date published: 10 July 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today announced the opening of the latest phase of the Forest Expansion Scheme.

Marking the opening of the Forest Expansion Scheme, Josh and Rebekah Hamilton plant a sapling. The DAERA Scheme is intended to encourage and support landowners who wish to plant their own woodland.

The Scheme, which is intended to encourage and support landowners who wish to plant their own woodland, is funded through the Rural Development Programme, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and DAERA.

Ben Searle from Forest Service said: “The opening of this, the fourth phase of our Forest Expansion scheme, is good news for landowners and the environment.

“Our forests are a hugely valuable natural resource. Our goal is to expand tree cover in Northern Ireland and sustainably manage existing woods and forests. This scheme aims to support and cultivate new woodland creation.

“In the past, the Forest Expansion Scheme has funded a range of applicants from private landowners to local authorities. It has aided a range of developments from commercial woodland to community retreats, on both agricultural and non-agricultural land.”

The Scheme will provide support for farmers and landowners to plant woodlands of five hectares or larger this coming winter.

Ben added: “To date, the Scheme has provided more than £1million of grant aid to support over 600 hectares of new woodland which will make a valuable contribution to the economy through production of wood for processing, enhancing the landscape, providing places for people to enjoy and an important habitat for wildlife.”

Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premia for a 10 year period. The Scheme is competitive, meaning that projects must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and that it favours bids with lower costs and which are part financed by the applicant.

Applications are scored higher by incorporating into their woodland plans services such as public access, storage of forest carbon to mitigate climate change, better wildlife habitat, larger woodland scale and planting on land with potential to mitigate flood risk.

There are two closing dates for the scheme; Friday 31 August or Friday 28 September 2018 for the 2018/19 planting season.

Applications that meet the eligibility criteria but are not selected for funding after the 31 August closing date will be carried forward into the second batch of applications submitted by 28 September.

Full information about the scheme and an application form is available at DAERA forestry grants. Alternatively, contact Forest Service on 028 6634 3019 or email: email:

Notes to editors: 

  1. Land on which Single Farm Payment (SFP) was paid in the 2008 scheme year or subsequently and was converted to forestry under an EU scheme remains eligible for SFP (or the successor Basic Payment Scheme) for the duration of the Forestry Grant Scheme.
  2. The Forest Expansion Scheme – Establishment Grant is competitive and those projects which maximise delivery of scheme objectives at minimum cost, that is to say those offering best value for money, will be prioritised and selected for funding. Successful applicants may receive up to 100% of eligible costs, however bids with lower costs may make your application better value for money and more likely to be selected for funding.
  3. The Forest Expansion Scheme – Annual Premia are payable over a 10-year period. To be accepted into the scheme the land must be in agricultural use.
  4. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
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  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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