Getting young trees off to a good start

Getting young trees off to a good start

The planting season for bare rooted plants is well and truly over. It is still OK to use cold store trees for a few more weeks though. This way the planting season can be extended. Cold store trees are trees that are lifted from the nursery beds when they are still fully dormant and placed in large chilled storage facilities, ‘cold stores’.

Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. Summary of main measures.

Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020.  Summary of main measures.


Afforestation and Creation of Woodland.


  1. Afforestation scheme

Basically a continuation of the existing scheme.  Grant aid to cover the cost of establishing and maintaining the plantation for the first 4 years.  This is a fixed grant rate.


Premium rate for enclosed land ranging from €510 to €615 per ha per annum payable for 15 years.  There is no differentiation in premium rate between farmers and non-farmers.  Persons out of the Early Retirement Scheme from farming can qualify for the forest premium.  Farmers can draw down the BPS on afforested land, subject to terms and conditions.


  1. Agro-Forestry

New scheme.  Grant aid to cover the cost of establishing and maintaining the plantation for the first 4 years.  Annual premium of €260 per ha per annum payable for 5 years.  The scheme is targeted at silvopastoral forestry which combines forestry and pasture, including grazing and the growing of fodder.  Stocking rate of trees of 400 – 1000 trees per ha.  Agro-Forestry must remain under forestry indefinitely and therefore is subject to a re-planting obligation.  Farmers can draw down the BPS on such land, subject to terms and conditions.


  1. Forestry for Fibre

New scheme.  Suitable sites must be below 200 m in elevation, enclosed and with free-draining arable or pasture soils or surface water gleys without a peat layer.


Grant aid to cover the cost of establishing and maintaining the plantation for the first 4 years.  Annual premium of €180 per ha per annum payable for 10 years. The area planted must remain under forestry indefinitely and therefore is subject to a re-planting obligation.  Farmers can draw down the BPS on such land, subject to terms and conditions.


  1. Native Woodland Establishment

An amended version of the existing scheme.  This is available to all landowners with Natura 2000, Acid Sensitive, High status waterbodies, Fresh Water Pearl Mussel catchment areas eligible once the woodland can contribute towards the various environmental sensitivities.


Grant aid to cover the cost of establishing and maintaining the plantation for the first 4 years.  This is a fixed grant rate.


Premium rate for enclosed land of €635 per ha per annum payable for 15 years.  There is no differentiation in premium rate between farmers and non-farmers.  Persons out of the Early Retirement Scheme from farming can qualify for this premium.  Farmers can draw down the BPS on such land, subject to terms and conditions.



Forest Road Scheme


The grant rate for roads has increased by €5 to €40 per linear meter, with a maximum allowance of 20 LM per ha of eligible forest area.  The criteria for calculating the eligible area is now as follows:  Where 50% or greater of the area is due for harvesting in the next 3 years the entire area can be deemed eligible.  This can be extended to 5 years for co-operative road building.


A special construction works (SCW) grant is being introduced for 50% of the cost of the SCW up to a maximum of €5000 per application whichever is the smaller.


The Forest Service area accepting applications from the 12th January.



Native Woodland Conservation Scheme


This is being re-introduced and supports the protection and enhancement of existing Native Woodlands and where appropriate the conversion of conifer forest to Native Woodland.  The involvement of an ecologist is mandatory.  Grants to a maximum of €5000/ha in respect of 100% of the total approved costs incurred are available.  The annual premium payable is €350 per ha for 7 years.


A new element – Emergent Native Woodland – is being introduced.  This aims to support the conservation of suitable area of scrub with a focus on such woodland on riparian sites and mineral sites.  Essentially these woodlands are under threat of scrubbing out but would be allowed to develop to high forest if allowed under this scheme.  The annual premium of €350/ha payable for 7 years applies.


Funding has been set aside for between 300ha – 360ha of native woodland conservation per annum.




Funding is also available/proposed for the following:


NeighbourWood Scheme,

Reconstitution Scheme,

Woodland Improvement (Thinning and Tending)

Knowledge Transfer and Innovation,

Producer Groups,

Innovative Forest Technology,

Forest Genetic Reproductive Material,

Forest Management Plans,


Penalties also form a significant part of the new forestry programme, applicable to both Grant and Premium payments.

New forestry programme approved by Government
By Donal Magner on 18 December 2014

Increases in afforestation grant aid and premiums welcomed while funding for roading designed to increase timber mobility.
Tom Hayes, Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, has announced the Government’s approval of the new Forestry Programme, covering the period 2015 to 2020.

The new programme “will involve total new spending of €262m and a further €220m in future commitments from 2020, mostly in relation to premium payments”, explained Minister Hayes.

The programme came under severe scrutiny by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform before it was cleared and is currently being considered by the EU for final approval.

Although the programme is being funded by the Exchequer, Minister Hayes, recognising the importance of securing EU approval as soon as possible, met with the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), Phil Hogan, last week.

“Following this meeting, I am confident that DG AGRI will do everything they can to progress Ireland’s application through the final stages of inter-service consultation,” he said.

Grants and premiums

Establishment grants have increased by 5% across all grant premium categories (GPCs) and a number of new GPCs have been introduced (Table 1).

Premiums are now “20% higher than those in the previous programme when compared year-on-year” (Table 2), although this claim has been contested by the IFA.

Roads will be supported at a rate of €40 per linear metre, representing a 14% increase over the previous rate, while the criteria for calculating the eligible area served by the proposed forest road has changed. Where 50% or greater of the area is due for harvesting within three years, the entire area can now be deemed eligible. For co-operative road building (joint applications), this can be extended to five years.

Forest road developments, which connect to existing forest road networks in public, State-owned or private forests, will be supported, even when the road extends outside the applicant’s land.


While the reduction of the premium period from 20 to 15 years is seen as a retrograde step, most organisations acknowledge that the consultation period yielded a number of positive changes to the programme.

As a result, IFA Farm Forestry Committee chairman Michael Fleming welcomed the programme. “A lot of progress was made during the negotiations with the Department to increase grants premiums from the original proposals,” he claimed.

While the yearly forest premiums have improved, he said the Department’s claim that they have increased by 20% is incorrect because of the reduction of the premium period from 20 to 15 years.

“When discounted back to present value, the forest premiums actually show a small annual reduction,” but he acknowledged that “the front-loading of forest premiums over 15 years might be attractive to some farmers”.

He said the removal of the differential in premium rates between farmers and non-farmers has been a source of debate among IFA members, but “one of its benefits is that it opens up the Afforestation Scheme to farmers that were in the Early Retirement Scheme”.

Paddy Bruton, managing director of Forestry Services Ltd, welcomed the introduction of a single rate of income tax-free forest premiums for all landowners interested in planting.

“This will provide a financially attractive planting option for farmers who can continue to receive the Single Farm Payment – soon to be the Basic Payment Scheme – on planted land and also for non-active landowners including those who availed of the Early Retirement Scheme from farming,” he maintained.

“Forestry is now a viable option for such landowners, which will open up a previously untapped land bank to forestry.”

He said the increase in forest road grant aid, combined with the extension of eligibility criteria, is a positive move.

“These measures, along with the re-introduction of special construction works grant aid, will essentially help to bring more private timber to the marketplace.”

Paul Harvey, chairman of the Wood Marketing Federation, welcomed the programme, including the introduction of a realistic rate of €500/ha for erecting IS436 fencing stakes.

“Forest protection from stock is vital and I encourage farmers and contractors to specify IS436 stakes as this ensures greater service life compared with non-IS436 stakes,” he said.

The challenge now is “the seamless introduction of the schemes in early January, which is essential to ensure a viable forestry programme,” he said.

Forestry Programme 2014-2020 Public Consultation

Tom Hayes, Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, has announced details of the proposed new forestry programme covering the period 2014 to 2020. These have been released for public consultation alongside an environmental report on the new plan for forestry. Following the public consultation process, the proposed programme will be submitted to the European Commission for approval and will be operational from 1 January 2015.

The main proposals cover afforestation grants and premia, while the remaining nine measures include roading grants, funding for reconstitution of damaged forests, woodland improvement and investment in technology, as well as support for producer groups and incentives for private owners to produce forest management plans.


However, the measures that are likely to attract greatest attention are the revised afforestation grant and premium schemes (Tables 1 and 2).

“These measures aim to increase forest cover and generate additional supplies of timber and wood biomass to meet the projected increase in demand from the wood processing and renewable energy sectors,” said Minister Hayes.

Launching the latest round of public consultation, the Minister said that he was encouraged by the level of engagement by stakeholders so far.

“I am happy to announce that the number of annual premium payments being proposed is now 15 instead of 12, as set out in the earlier consultation document issued in March.

“This is a significant improvement on what was originally proposed and is particularly noteworthy given that the premium rate has also increased by 10% for the most popular grant category.” The Minister also signalled a proposed small increase in some grant rates.

“The plan has been designed to encourage more land owners to invest in forestry, with the introduction of two premium payment scales whereby applications greater than 8ha will receive a higher premium,” he claimed. “Secondly, the inclusion of a single rate of premium for farmers and non-farmers [will] incentivise non-farmers to plant trees under the new scheme.”

Two new schemes, agroforestry and fast rotation for fibre production, have been introduced with respective premium schemes of five and 10-year periods.

Disappointment has already been expressed about the reduction of the premium payment period of 15 years for major afforestation schemes. This falls well short of the existing 20-year timeframe, so there is likely to be robust debate during the public consultation period to increase the payment period or rate to part compensate for a 25% reduction in the premium duration.

A 10% increase in the annual premia for afforestation on unenclosed land (Table 2) is welcome but is still too low to act as a stimulus to encourage planting of the identified 250,000ha of productive unenclosed land suitable for afforestation. In addition, the establishment grant (at €2,500/ha) is almost 30% below the rate provided for afforestation on enclosed land (Table 1).

There is a significant increase in grant aid where fencing is carried out using IS436 certified fencing stakes. IS436 fencing stakes conform to an accepted standard that guarantees a longer service life than non-IS436 material. The previous scheme provided €400/ha for IS436 and €350/ha for non-IS436. The €50 differential wasn’t sufficient to encourage forest owners – or forestry companies – to use registered longer lasting IS436 stakes and strainers which are more expensive.

Under the new proposed measures, the differential has been increased to €150/ha. IS436 fencing stakes now attract a €500/ha grant while the grant for non-IS436 has been reduced to €300/ha (Table 1).

Forest roads

Minister Hayes outlined a number of changes to the forest road scheme in relation to the area of eligibility and the timing of payments. “In addition, it is proposed that a grant of up to €5,000 for special construction works be provided and support for connecting to existing forest road networks,” he said.

“The grants for special construction works will be targeted at applications falling within Natura 2000 sites and other environmentally sensitive areas. The aim will be to encourage the building of infrastructure that will help minimise any adverse effects on water quality that might arise from harvesting activity.”


A Department spokesperson said that the objectives of the programme “include the establishment of over 46,000ha of new forests, the construction of 960km of forest roads and improved levels of support for the establishment and conservation of native woodlands”.

He said that, in tandem with the programme, “the Department is working with New Era to examine the possibilities for institutional investment in forestry”.


The proposed forestry programme is now subject to a public consultation process. Written submission can be emailed ( before 13 October while details of programme and the Environmental Report are available at

Taken from article in the Farmer’s Journal:



A Good Practice Guide, Managing Timber Transport, was jointly launched on a trial basis today by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Tom Hayes TD and Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) Alan Kelly TD.

Speaking at the launch of the document in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, Minister Hayes said “I am very pleased to launch this important document with Minister Kelly. Responsible timber transport along our public roads is vital and I am pleased the sector has come together to work through the issues. This Guide provides a common framework for partnership in relation to good practice between all stakeholders, forest owners and agents, timber industry, timber haulage managers and local authorities. The trial period of some twelve months will allow the strengths and weaknesses of the Guide to be determined so that the final document will be as supportive as possible for all stakeholders.”

Minister Kelly said “Solutions to transporting timber on local roads can be achieved through good communications, planning and management, optimum vehicle selection and compliance with legislation and guidelines. I note that the Guidelines being launched today will form part of a package of measures to include:-
• A Technical Standard for the Design of Forest Entrances from Public Roads
• Data exchange on Forest Locations and Age
• Timber Harvest Forecasting
• Designated Timber Transport Routes (using the local authority roads management information system MapRoad)
• Industry liaison through the Forest Industry Transport Group
• Code of Practice for Road Haulage around Timber

• Reduced Vehicle Tyre Pressure Technologies
• Support Forestry and Public Road research
• Proposed simplification of consent system for forest roads
The aim is to seek effective systems for managing road entrances and timber transport that balances the interests of all stakeholders.”

The forest industry is of increasing importance to the national economy and is set for further significant growth with the annual timber harvest set to double over the next 15 years. Virtually all of this increase in the roundwood timber harvest is from the private sector. The objective of the Good Practice Guide is to develop a partnership approach for the management of round timber transport and to ensure that this activity is carried out in an environmentally sustainable and economically viable manner.

There are a number of recommendations within the guide which the Forest Industry Transport Group will endeavour to progress over the next few years and these will serve to benefit not only those involved in the timber industry but also local communities.

The Guide was developed by the Forest Industry Transport Group with support from all the major participants in the industry, these include DAFM, DTTAS, Coillte, Timber Haulage Contractors, Irish Forestry and Forest Products association, IFA, Local Authorities, UCD, Irish Timber Council, Irish Timber Growers Association.

Forest Fire Warning

Forest Fire Risk Warning

Condition Orange – High Fire Risk . Be Prepared.

Issue date: 11 04 2014 1700hrs
Given recent weather patterns, presence of Atlantic High Pressure systems and the impacts of resulting weather patterns on flammability of available fine fuels, DAFM/Forest Service advises that a High Fire Risk (Condition Orange) is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels are available in proximity to woodand other assets.
This condition will remain in place until otherwise stated by DAFM/Forest Service.
All forest owners and managers are advised to prepare for likely outbreaks of fire. Fire plans, fire suppression equipment should be made ready and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts etc. should be in place.
Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and recreational users are asked to be vigilant, to report any suspicious activity to the Gardai and to report all fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services.

The Department also recommends that forest owners, managers and investors should consider the fire mitigation measures that they can put in place to help prevent loss or damage to forest resources through fire. Examples of such measures are:

1. Prepare: Have fire-fighting tools such as beaters and knapsack sprayers to hand and ready to use. If you do not live in reasonable proximity to your woodland a local caretaker or forest neighbour should be employed and should also have a copy of the fire plan with your and all the above contact numbers. Clear tracks and roads if available and ensure forest entrances and access routes are not blocked by parked vehicles or other obstacles, especially where visitors or recreational users may be present. Suitable signage to this effect should be displayed on gates or barriers.

2. Be Vigilant: Forest owners should be particularly vigilant during the high risk period. Fire patrols may be warranted in known fire hotspots. Be particularly vigilant at Bank Holiday weekends where high risk weather is forecast. Forest owners should share the burden of vigilance with neighbouring owners and other concerned parties such as local residents groups etc. Cooperation between neighbouring landowners is critical to successful fire prevention. Forest owners should discuss their concerns about fire with local landowners in advance of the fire season. Providing assistance to farmers wishing to carry out legal prescribed burning earlier in the season is a useful way of developing good working relationships with neighbours, as well as ensuring that operations are conducted safely. Forest owners should cooperate with fire planning and share the burden of fire patrols and vigilance during high risk periods.

3. Obey the Law: It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1st day of March and 31st day of August in any year. Report suspicious or illegal activity to Gardai immediately. Landowners wishing to carry our prescribed burning during the legal period for doing so, must notify in writing all Forest owners within one mile, and the local Garda station between 7 and 35 days in advance of the burning operation. Landowners found burning illegally could face fines, imprisonment and Single Farm Payment penalties, where applicable.

4. Report Fires Immediately: If you see a fire, do not delay; report it to the Fire and Emergency Services straight away. Do not wait for somebody else to make the call. Dial 999 or 112. Give clear details as regards location, where at all possible using a national grid reference and any other useful information such as the size of the fire, wind direction, proximity to dwellings or forestry etc. You will not be billed by the fire service or local authority for making the call. Do not attempt to tackle fires alone or without adequate training or protective equipment.

5. Report Losses: If your plantation is damaged or destroyed, report this loss as soon as possible to the Gardai and the Forest Service. Report losses to or in writing to Forest Service, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford.


Minister Hayes on SEA for 2014-2020 programe


Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, announced the formal signing today of the contract with RSM McClure Watters (Consulting) Ltd. to carry out an Ex Ante Evaluation, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment of the new forestry programme for 2014 – 2020.

Minister Hayes said that “The signing of this contract marks an important step in the preparation of the new forestry programme as it signals the beginning of a process which will end in the formal adoption of an ambitious plan for forestry, fully funded by the State.” The proposed suite of measures will undergo a rigorous appraisal exercise to ensure that the overall plan is in line with the needs identified for Ireland which are consistent with EU wide priorities. The proposal will then be subject to an environmental assessment which will ensure that any environmental considerations are taken into account in the preparation of the forestry programme. At the centre of this work will be a consultation process involving both stakeholders and the wider public and it is expected that this process will begin next month, with details to be announced shortly.

The Minister said that “The forestry programme for the period 2014 – 2020 must take into account new State Aid rules which are based on the recently published CAP regulations. I can reassure those wishing to plant and the forestry sector as a whole that my Department is looking at all option available within this new framework to maintain an attractive afforestation scheme for the next 6 years.”


Giudance For Forest Owners on Windblow

Guidance for Forest Owners with Windblow
March 2014
The recent storms have caused damage in many Irish forests particularly in the south of the country. While initial estimates put the area damaged at less than 1% of the total forest area, locally the damage has been severe, with significant volumes of roundwood impacted. To deal with this windblown timber it is important that timber growers are aware of the various steps to take in assessing and planning the harvest of this timber.
Stakeholders in the forestry sector have come together under the chairmanship of the Minister of State for Forestry, Tom Hayes TD, to co-ordinate a response to this storm damage. This Windblow Taskforce is currently endeavouring to:
1. Estimate the area, volume and extent of the damage nationally,
2. Make recommendations to address the many issues that will arise in relation to the windblow event,
3. Make recommendations for the orderly removal of windblown timber from damaged forests.

For forest owners who have experienced windblow the most important advice is not to rush into decisions but to make a step-by-step plan to minimise risk and maximise the salvage value of your plantation. Most forests, despite being blown, can have considerable timber value. The following steps will assist forest owners in planning and harvesting:
1. Think Safety first, a windblown forest is a dangerous place. Only qualified and insured people should be permitted access. All parties have legal obligations when carrying out forestry operations under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1989:
2. If your plantation is insured for windblow, contact your insurance company immediately. Inform them that your plantation is damaged. The insurance company will assign an assessor to assess the damage.
3. Get independent advice from a Teagasc Forestry Adviser (For a one-to-one free advisory session in a Teagasc office, find the local adviser in your County at ) or from a qualified forestry professional who will meet you on-the-ground, and also other qualified professionals such as insurance advisors, taxation experts, etc. A qualified forester can assist you in the various steps outlined below. See the Forest Service website for a list of Registered Foresters:
4. Assess the area, timber volume and likely value of the windblow in your forest. In addition assess the adjacent area that has not blown. Taking account of factors such as age, area and risk of windblow, a decision will need to be made whether or not it is best to retain the adjoining area and to allow it to grow on to normal clearfell age, or to harvest this area together with the area that has suffered windblow. Most plantations are unlikely to be entirely blown. Where a forest is partially windblown, it is important that a forestry professional assesses the remaining standing trees for stability. Where the forester deems that such trees are unstable, these should be included in the felling licence application.
5. Apply for a Felling Licence from Forest Service to fell/harvest the windblown timber and potentially any adjacent trees that may be at risk of windblow after the felling/removal of the windblown trees. Mark your application ‘Storm Damage’ to allow it to be prioritised by the Forest Service. If there is an existing licence for the land, please specify the licence number in your new felling licence application. The existing licence has to be cancelled before a new licence can issue as the same land cannot have two licences. Please ensure that the felling licence is signed by the land owner and where clearfelling is proposed, that details of the species being replanted are provided. See the Forest Service website for further information:
6. Consider access to the forest and specifically the windblown area and if necessary apply for a roading grant from the Forest Service, DAFM. Applications should be submitted before the end of March 2014 and can be made through a forester on the approved list.
7. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 there is an obligation on landowners to gather information about site hazards and to produce a site risk assessment together with a site hazards map.
8. Market the windblown timber and get professional advice on current prices. Joining with a group of forest owners to sell timber will provide you with scale and efficiency. It may also reduce costs thereby maximising salvage value. Larger timber lots are more attractive to buyers.
9. Have a strong Timber Sales Contract in place to protect the interests of all parties and to ensure compliance with environmental requirements, Felling Licence, Health and Safety, indemnity, insurance, agreed harvesting procedures, timber prices, duration of contract, arbitration provisions, relevant maps and schedules and other requirements. A forestry professional should be able to provide you with such a contract or the Template Master Tree Sales Agreement produced by the Irish Timber Growers Association should be consulted.
10. Control the movement of timber from your site using a strong Timber Sales Dispatch System for security and accountability in timber sales. Again a forestry professional will provide this or see the ITGA Model Timber Sales Dispatch System:
11. Supervision and monitoring of the sale and harvesting operations will ensure you are complying with best practice and the provisions of the Felling Licence.
12. Close off the sale and record keeping – This is important for accounting and tax, Health and Safety, various environmental and other obligations. Make sure all timber is accounted for, paid for and that proper records are maintained.
13. Replanting plan – Plan your harvest in conjunction with subsequent replanting, which is a legal obligation after felling. A badly planned and implemented harvesting operation will potentially increase the replanting cost, ground damage and the ability of your forest to recover quickly.

The Windblow Taskforce is chaired by Minister Tom Hayes and is made up of the following:
Irish Forest and Forest Products Association (IFFPA)
Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA)
Irish Farmers Association (IFA)
Forest Service, DAFM