Forest Expansion Scheme reopens for applications

Date published: 10 July 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced the opening of the fifth phase of the Forest Expansion Scheme and a revised Forest Protection Scheme to help woodland owners affected by Chalara ash dieback.


The Forest Expansion Scheme is intended to encourage and support landowners who wish to plant their own woodland. Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premia for a 10-year period. Projects must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and the scheme favours bids with lower costs and which are part financed by the applicant.

Applications for the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by 12.00 pm Monday 30 September 2019 for the 2019/20 planting season.

The revised Forest Protection Scheme – Chalara ash dieback aims to encourage sustainable management of woodlands that may be affected by the disease. This will be by maintaining, as far as possible, the values and benefits associated with ash woodlands, to secure an economic return where timber production is an important objective, retain genetic diversity in ash trees with the aim of retention of potentially disease tolerant ash trees and minimise impacts on associated species and wider biodiversity.

The schemes are 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 fifth 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. The Forest Expansion Scheme will help to support and cultivate new woodland creation.

“To date, the Scheme has provided more than £2million of grant aid to create new woodlands which will make a valuable contribution to the economy through storing forest carbon to mitigate climate change, production of wood for processing, enhancing the landscape, providing places for people to enjoy and an important habitat for wildlife.”

View further details for both schemes

Alternatively, contact Forest Service on 028 6634 3165 or via 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 Forest Protection Scheme – Chalara ash dieback is for woodland owners with current Forest Service woodland grant scheme agreements and with immature ash woodlands.
  5. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook
  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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