Forestry Programme 2014-2020
The Forestry Programme 2014-2020 consists of 11 separate measures aimed at forestry development which will deliver economic, social and environmental beneﬁts to society.
Under the redesigned Aﬀorestation Scheme both farmers and non farmers will receive the same premium rate which will be paid each year for 15 years. This is worth up to
€9,500/hectare over 15 years. Further details of the Scheme are outlined below. It is anticipated that these changes will prove attractive to those landowners not previously interested in forestry. Furthermore, agro forestry and forestry for ﬁbre measures are targeted speciﬁcally at farmers providing them with options for grazing livestock alongside forestry and in the case of forestry for ﬁbre, the option to harvest timber after 10-15 years rather than 35-40 years as is the case with other types of forestry. These are signiﬁcant developments for farmers as they present real options for alternative income sources which can operate alongside existing and more traditional farming enterprises.
Forest Roads Scheme
Under the Programme 2014-2020, the grant rate for roads is €40/linear metre (an increase of €5 per linear metre compared to the comparable scheme in the previous Programme). The criteria for calculating the eligible area served by the proposed forest road was also changed. Where 50% or greater of the area is due for harvesting in the next 3 years, the entire area can now be deemed eligible.
For co-operative road building (joint applications) this can extend to 5 years. In cases where the proposed forest road bell mouth is at least 2 metre (m) below the surface of the existing public road, an additional 30m will be allowed per forest entrance to contribute towards the cost of additional stone required. This means that bell mouths in this situation can include an additional 60 metres of road length for grant purposes. Further details of the Scheme are outlined below.
The other Schemes included in the Forestry Programme 2014 -2020 are:
i) NeighbourWood Scheme: Provides support for the development of attractive ‘close-to-home’ woodland amenities for public access, use and enjoyment. This measure is aimed primarily at local authorities.
ii) Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme: This scheme aims to increase the supply of superior home produced seed which can then be used in nurseries to grow selected and improved trees for new planting and reforestation. This will be achieved by providing support for the management of seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material and the establishment of both indoor and outdoor seed orchards.
iii) Reconstitution Scheme: Provides support for the forest holder to restore and retain forests following signiﬁcant damage by natural causes (excluding ﬁre and storm damage).
iv) Native Woodland Conservation Scheme: Supports the protection and enhancement of existing native woodlands and where appropriate, the conversion of conifers forest to native woodlands. This measure is focused on important native woodland types and opportunities for habitat linkage, and on environmentally sensitive areas, with a view to realising wider eco-system services such as water protection.
v) Woodland Improvement (Thinning and Tending) Scheme: This scheme provides support for forest management operations for broadleaf woodlands and actions within existing forests, which eﬀect structural changes aimed at protecting and enhancing water quality and other environmental sensitivities.
vi) Knowledge Transfer and Innovation: Supports the setting up of knowledge transfer groups, continuous professional development, and training.
vii) Producer Groups: Support is provided under this measure to help forest holders to work together to create a critical mass for forestry operations and mobilising timber.
viii) Innovative Forest Technology: Support for early adopters of new technology, e.g. variable tyre systems, inventory equipment.
ix) Forest Management Plans: Support for forest holders to prepare management
plans for their forest holdings.
Aﬀorestation Grants and Premium Levels
The Aﬀorestation Grants and Premium Scheme launched in 2015 under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 provides for payment of 100% of the cost of establishing new forests and annual premium payments for up to 15 years. The Scheme does not diﬀerentiate between farmers and non-farmers with a single rate payable for each Grant and Premium Category (GPC). Expenditure on the Scheme is entirely funded by the National Exchequer.
The Department’s forestry online services now facilitate payment to forestry applicants who use the Integrated Forest Information System (IFORIS) over the Internet. The IFORIS computer system was developed by the Forest Service for the processing of forestry pre- approval, grant and premium applications. The system was subsequently expanded to IFORIS Internet (iNet) to provide facilities to forestry companies to submit and manage their clients’ forestry scheme applications online. Forest owners who are not registered and who would like to avail of this online service can register online at www.agfood.ie.
Forest Roads Scheme
This Scheme provides for payment of grants of up to 100% of eligible costs incurred in the construction of a forest road. The grant rate for roads is €40 per linear metre capped at 20 linear metres per hectare of forest area that is ready for harvesting. Payments are made in two instalments – 90% of eligible costs for the ﬁrst instalment and a balance of 10% on satisfactory completion of the works.
A special construction works (SCW) grant is available under the Scheme for 50% of the cost of the SCW up to a maximum of €5,000 per application, whichever is the smaller.
This provision is primarily aimed at facilitating the construction of forest roads in environmentally sensitive sites to limit any potential adverse impacts from harvesting activities.
Forest road developments which connect to an existing forest road network in a public, state owned or private forest will be supported. In these situations that proportion of forest road constructed outside of the applicants land will be grant aided.
All forest road construction, whether grant aided or not, must receive the prior approval of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Each application must undergo an environmental assessment to ensure that it does not adversely impact on the environment.
Woodland Improvement (Thinning and Tending) Scheme
The aim of this Scheme is to stimulate investment in the improvement, protection and development of young broadleaf forests. Payment is made in a single grant of €750 per treated hectare over the full rotation of the crop. This measure is primarily aimed at private forestry owners.
Previous Forestry Programmes have incorporated important checks and balances to ensure that forests are established in the most appropriate places and in a manner which protects the environment. Appropriate assessment of forestry proposals in Natura 2000 sites, stakeholder consultation and a suite of environmental guidelines are all important controls for sustainable forestry development.
The Forestry Programme 2014 -2020 builds on these controls and develops them further. Protection and enhancement of water quality, native woodlands, species diversity and renewable energy are important components of the forestry schemes launched as part of the 2014-2020 programme. Speciﬁc initiatives in this regard include the following:
• Incorporation of existing native woodlands establishment scheme into the main aﬀorestation scheme to harness the potential for planting native woodlands as part of more commercial forests;
• Signiﬁcantly improved provision for native woodland conservation to enhance water quality and enrich biodiversity. This scheme will be targeted at measures to protect the Freshwater Pearl Mussel (FPM) population which is considered extinct or close to extinction in most EU countries. Ireland has 46% of the EU’s population of FPM;
• A special construction works grant for forest roads worth up to €5,000 aimed at minimising adverse eﬀects of harvesting on sensitive sites i.e. sedimentation of local watercourses;
• A Woodland Improvement Grant to support actions such as installation of silt traps, enrichment planting and reinstating setbacks. These actions are aimed at enhancing water quality, conserving archaeological sites and protecting vulnerable habitats;
• Native woodlands must be included alongside aquatic buﬀer zones in water sensitive sites such as aquatic Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and sensitive ﬁsheries areas. This will provide a ﬁltration buﬀer zone slowing down runoﬀ from upland areas and helping to prevent sediment reaching rivers and streams.
For plantations over 10 hectares an open area for biodiversity enhancement amounting to 15% must be retained and where the area is less than 10ha the percentage can be reduced. The national target for broadleaf planting is 30% which will be achieved as follows:
• higher grant and premiums for broadleaf species
• the requirement to include 10% broadleaves (where site quality allows) within all
new individual aﬀorestation projects; and
• the availability of funding under the Native Woodland Establishment measure (GPC 9 and 10).
Forestry Promotion and Training
The overall objectives of the work undertaken by Forestry Division in relation to Forestry Promotion and Training are:
• To promote knowledge on the sustainable management of forests;
• To support forestry skills training;
• To improve the overall performance and competitiveness of forests;
• To help forest owners to increase their knowledge of forest management;
• To raise awareness of the many beneﬁts of forestry, and
• To promote the development of Forestry Producer Groups.
The Forestry Programme 2014 -2020 and the Department’s Rural Development Plan include speciﬁc measures aimed at knowledge transfer and promoting innovation within the forestry sector. These include the following:
The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) initiative is seen as an important instrument for delivering knowledge transfer to all individuals working in the ﬁeld of forestry. The aim will be to further develop the knowledge base of all professionals involved in any aspect of forestry on an ongoing basis and to foster a lifelong learning approach to forestry. In broader terms, CPD will contribute towards:
• The maintenance of professional competence,
• Enhancement of existing knowledge and skills, and
• Development of new knowledge and skills.
Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) involve forest owners coming together to share information on speciﬁc topics of mutual interest, for example, mobilising timber, inventory and silviculture. The concept has worked successfully in the beef and sheep sectors and the aim is to establish a similar structure for forest owners. By meeting in groups with other forest owners facilitated by a professional forester, forest owners can become more aware of the value of their forests, the importance of active forest management and the interaction with their forests and the surrounding environment.
The Innovative Forest Technology scheme envisages support for the adoption of new technologies that may not be fully established or tested under Irish conditions. The type of technologies envisaged could relate to harvesting technology in general or support for smaller scale technologies which are applicable to private forest holders, producer groups, forest contractors and haulage operators.
The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) involves the setting up of Operational Groups to develop ideas and put these into practice. It is aimed primarily at general agriculture within the framework of the Department’s Rural Development Programme but could includeforestry. These operational groups which are similar to KTGs are expected to be ‘hands on’ in terms of working towards the resolution of a certain (practical) problem or opportunity which may lead to an innovative solution. Ideas may not necessarily be technical in nature, but could be social or based on new or traditional practices. The EIP approach is aimed at ensuring better take up and implementation of the solution as hands on participation by forest owners themselves working on solutions to problems that aﬀect them will help speed up the introduction, dissemination, and acceptance of the new idea.
International Forestry Division
International Forestry Division has responsibility for a wide range of policy issues at both European (including EU) and international level.
The Division is responsible for the transposition of appropriate EU legislation into Irish law. It also represents Ireland at various EU fora, including the European Council Working Party on Forestry, the Standing Forestry Committee and the EUTR /FLEGT Committee. Furthermore it also represents Ireland at various international fora beyond the European Union such as Forest Europe and the relevant United Nations groups.
The Division is designated as Ireland’s national Competent Authority for implementation, governance and enforcement of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), both of which are aimed at combating the global scourge of illegal logging and its underlying negative eﬀects on the environment, human well being and greenhouse gas emissions.
The FLEGT Regulation provides for a licensing regime for imports of a range of timber and timber products from third countries that have entered into Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with the EU. The ﬁrst VPA country is expected to become active from early 2016.
The EUTR is an instrument which requires timber operators to apply due diligence to consignments of timber or timber products when they are ﬁrst placed on the EU market. Further down the supply chain, the Regulation requires traders to keep and maintain records for traceability purposes. Overall, the EUTR is a robust instrument which aims to ensure that timber and timber products which are placed on the EU market are from legal sources. This Regulation came into force in March 2013.
Applicants under the various Forestry Schemes may appeal within three months of the decision on the application concerned to the Agriculture Appeals Oﬃce, Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co Laois against any decision of the Department which aﬀects their entitlements to grant or premium payments. The appeal would normally be preceded by an internal review of the decision by the Department following receipt of a submission from the applicant detailing the grounds which s/he feels should be considered as part of the review. The oﬀer of such review is communicated with the decision on their application.
Appeals by applicants against consents to aﬀorest or construct forest roads, and by the public, including environmental organisations, or statutory consultation bodies, who have submitted observations on the proposal, are considered by a Forestry Appeals Committee. This appeal must be made within 21 days of the decision to the Forestry Appeals Unit, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle, Wexford.
Control Of Felling
Under the Forestry Act, 1946, with certain exceptions, it is illegal to uproot a tree over ten years old, or cut down a tree of any age, or injure a tree of any age without a Felling Licence. Any person uprooting or cutting down a tree without a felling licence may be prosecuted through the Courts. Penalties for illegal felling can be severe and in addition to any ﬁne imposed by the Court, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine may, by Order, also require the person convicted to replant. Landowners should note that the granting of Planning Permission does not give permission to fell trees; a felling licence still needs to be applied for before felling any trees on the site.
The Forestry Act 2014, enacted in October 2014, will, when commenced, replace the Forestry Act, 1946. It is intended that the Forestry Act 2014 will be commenced early in 2016. The requirement for a Felling Licence will remain under the Forestry Act 2014
Forest Pest and Disease Protection – Import Regulations
The Forest Service is responsible for implementing the forestry aspects of Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community. The Forest Service implements the provisions relating to wood, wood packaging material, forest plants and Christmas trees. Early detection of a newly introduced pest or disease is essential and forest owners and the forest industry are encouraged to be ever vigilant in detecting such introductions. If any unusual pest or disease is observed, please contact the Forest Service. The following services are available:
• Registration of importers (importing from non EU Countries) of controlled wood, wood products and forest plants;
• Registration of producers of forestry material such as forest nurseries;
• Forest pest and disease diagnostic service;
• Advice on import regulations concerning wood, wood packaging, forest plants and Christmas trees;
• Issuing of Phytosanitary Certiﬁcates for exports of forestry material.
Food Packing Material (Pallets, Crates, Etc) – Export Regulations
In relation to exports, the Forest Service is responsible for the implementation of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 15, Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade. ISPM No. 15 describes phytosanitary measures to reduce the risk of introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests associated with wood packaging made of raw wood, in use in international trade.
In practice, wood packaging material (pallets, crates, boxes etc.) made from unprocessed raw wood, and used in supporting, protecting or carrying goods of all kinds, must be heat treated in a speciﬁed manner and the packaging must be stamped on at least two sides with the oﬃcially approved mark verifying the heat treatment and incorporating the registration number of the producer of the packaging.
The following services are available in relation to ISPM No. 15:
• Registration of kiln operators and producers of wood packaging material;
• Advice to wood packaging producers and kiln operators concerning ISPM No. 15;
• Advice to exporting companies concerning ISPM No. 15.
Forest Reproductive Material
Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) is a collective term to describe seeds, plants and cuttings which are important for forestry purposes. The Forest Service is responsible for implementing Council Directive 1999/105/EC on the marketing of FRM. The aim of the legislation is to ensure that FRM which is marketed from approved suitable sources and is clearly labeled and identiﬁed throughout the entire process from seed collection to processing, storage, plant production and delivery to the ﬁnal end user.
The following services are available:
• Registration of suppliers of forest reproductive material – seed collectors, nurseries, seed and plant importers;
• Registration of seed stands;
• Issuing of Seed Collection Permits and Certiﬁcates of Provenance for seed collections;
• Advice on forest seed and plant regulations.