Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen today announced encouraging news for the forestry sector by opening the next phase of the Forest Expansion Scheme.
The scheme, under the Rural Development Programme, is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
It will provide support for farmers and landowners to plant woodlands of five hectares or larger this coming winter. The first phase of the scheme last year resulted in over 180 hectares of new woodland planting.
The Minister commented that forestry makes a valuable contribution to the Northern Ireland economy, saying: “Forestry has potential to contribute to a number of the outcomes in the new draft Programme for Government. For example, the outcomes of living and working sustainably and protecting the environment are served by working in forestry, wood processing, and the small businesses that use forests for tourism and pre-school activities. Also, supplying and using wood as a substitute for fossil fuels will help reduce emissions. And taking exercise in our forests will contribute towards the outcome of living long, healthy, active lives.”
Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme Establishment Grant may now receive up to 100% of eligible costs, compared with a maximum of 70% of costs under previous schemes. In addition annual premia are now payable over a 10 year period compared with 15 years under previous schemes, but at increased rates.
The Forest Expansion Scheme is competitive, meaning that projects must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and that the scheme favours bids with lower costs and which are part financed by the applicant. Applications are scored higher by providing public access, increased carbon sequestration, richer biodiversity, and larger scale over other bids.
The Minister added: “I am aware of the challenges facing the land-based and forestry sector caused by the impact of global markets, exchange rate fluctuations and international trade. I will be engaging to help forge a new relationship with Europe and to develop a support framework that meets the needs and aspirations of the forestry sector.
“I am committed to addressing all of these challenges. By working collectively with forest growers and stakeholders we can build a forest industry that is well positioned in the global timber marketplace to supply the growing demand for wood, to provide people in Northern Ireland with a wide range of social and environmental benefits that forestry has to offer.”
Further details of the scheme and advice on how to apply, as well as an information booklet and application form, are available on the DAERA website.
Alternatively, contact Forest Service on 028 6634 3019 or email: email@example.com. Applications for the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by 3.00 pm Friday 30 September 2016 for the 2016/17 planting season.
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption - DAERA minister Michelle McIlveen visits Castle Archdale Forest , Co Fermanagh, to launch the re-opening of the Forest Expansion Scheme.The minister met Malcolm Beatty, Chief Executive of the Forest Service, during the visit to the 520 hectare forest on the eastern shores of Lower Lough Erne.The Forest Expansion Scheme will provide support for farmers and landowners to plant woodlands of five hectares or greater.
- The Forest Expansion Scheme will encourage larger woodland planting (five hectares and larger) to increase long-term storage of carbon in trees and counter climate change, to provide publicly accessible forests and forests suitable for wildlife and timber production.
- 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. Similarly land eligible for BPS converted to forestry under an EU scheme remains eligible for BPS for the duration of the Forestry Grant Scheme.
- 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.
- The Forest Expansion Scheme – Annual Premia are now payable over a 10 year period at increased rates but for a shorter time period compared with the previous annual premia scheme. To be accepted into the scheme the land must be in agricultural use.
- Follow DAERA on Twitter @daera_ni.
- All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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