The 2017-18 forestry planting season was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle this week.

Since 1990, the forestry programme has invested over €2.5 billion in rural Ireland and resulted in over 300,000 hectares planted with trees.

According to the Minister, the current Afforestation Scheme offers huge benefits to landowners and is an ideal opportunity to plant trees as part of your farming enterprise.

Under the Scheme 100pc of the costs of establishment are covered by the Department and 15 guaranteed annual premium payments are also available.

Over 13,000 Irish farmers received a forestry payment in 2016, while Departmental records indicate that the most popular planting option attracts an annual guaranteed premium of €510 per hectare.

There are 12 planting categories under the Afforestation Scheme to suit all scenarios and preferences including native woodland establishment, forestry for fibre, which has a 15-year rotation, and agro forestry where agriculture and forestry can co-exist on the same land.

Ireland's new forestry programme – what’s in it for farmers? 1

The Afforestation Scheme provides a fixed establishment grant up to 100pc of total costs and will be available to private land owners for projects approved by the Department of Agriculture.

Grants will be paid in two instalments. The first instalment, representing about 75pc of the total available grant, will be payable immediately after completion of establishment works (including site preparation, planting and fencing), based on a payment application and subsequent assessment by the Forest Service.

The second instalment (25pc) will be payable not sooner than four years after planting, again after Forest Service assessment.

Premiums will be paid each year for 15 years, unlike previous afforestation schemes, the same rate applies for both farmers and non-farmers. Premium rates vary depending on the species planted, higher premiums are paid for broadleaves.

Ireland's new forestry programme – what’s in it for farmers? 2
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