Thursday, 12 December 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
279. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the funding provided for the native woodland establishment scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of additional hectares supported per year under the scheme; the expenditure on the scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the projects supported in each year since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52194/19]
My Department operates a package of measures under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020, aimed specifically at promoting the proactive protection and expansion of Ireland’s native woodland resource. These measures represent a key biodiversity component within Ireland’s national forest policy as well as contributing to our climate change objectives. Native Woodland Establishment (NWE) (as represented by Grant & Premium Categories 9 and 10 under the Afforestation Grant & Premium Scheme), which funds the establishment of new native woodland on open “greenfield” sites.
In order to further encourage the planting of native woodlands, my Department has launched a Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) initiative. This provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners to support the national effort to plant additional native trees. The WEF involves an additional once-off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare paid by the business to the landowner. There has been a positive reaction from the business community to this scheme, with An Post and Accenture already signed up and other businesses submitting formal expressions of interest in participating in the scheme. At a recent event to promote the WEF, there was substantial interest amongst businesses in attendance in investing in the Fund.
Furthermore, my colleague Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I recently announced that Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna are collaborating on a new project which will see bogs that are no longer being used for peat production, transformed into rich native woodlands.
Following on from this, we plan to actively engage with other public bodies in the near future to encourage them to identify possibilities within their land bank for the establishment of native woodlands.
Funding for the scheme is included in overall Forestry Programme. Under the mid-term review of the Programme, I increased grants and premium rates to encourage planting. The grant available for Native Woodland Establishment is €5,620 per hectare and land owners can receive an annual premium of €665/ha or if over 10 hectares, €680/ha for 15 years.
The new hectares planted, expenditure (grants and annual premiums) and the number of sites for the years indicated are given in the table below. Please note that expenditure reflects payments in respect of new planting each year, in addition to planting in previous years for which second grants and annual premiums fall due.
|Year||New Hectares Planted||Expenditure €||Number of New Sites|
* to end November