LANDOWNERS in Northern Ireland can now apply to two grant programmes for help to plant their own woodlands.

The Forest Expansion Scheme and Small Woodland Grant will pay successful applicants up to 100 per cent of eligible establishment costs and annual premium payments for a 10-year period.

The two grants are the next stage in the country's Forests for Our Future project, which aims to plant 18 million trees by 2030, creating 9,000 hectares of new woodland. 

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “I am delighted to announce the reopening of the Forest Expansion Scheme and Small Woodland Grant Scheme for 2022 on 15 June.

Forestry Journal: Minister Edwin PootsMinister Edwin Poots

"These schemes are designed to attract and support farmers and other landowners to plant new woodland to complement their land management activity and add to our valuable woodland assets."

The schemes can support all types of sustainable woodland with the Small Woodland Grant being designed as a simple online programme for new native woodlands of 0.2 hectares and larger. The establishment grant will be paid at £2,925 per hectare, 80 per cent in year one and the remaining 20 per cent in year five. 

Meanwhile, the Forest Expansion Scheme supports native woodland, mixed woodland or commercial conifer woodland that can best meet land owners business needs, while contributing to a living, working, active landscape.

Minister Poots added: “I am pleased that in the last year land owners planted 525 hectares of new woodland under forestry grant schemes support. This is an encouraging response on our journey to increase the level of afforestation needed to reach the targets set out in the challenging Forests for Our Future programme.

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“The reopening of our forestry grant schemes will enable private land owners and public sector organisations to bring forward new woodland creation projects for the forthcoming planting season.”

Landowners who wish to plant this winter are reminded that all applications to the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by August 31, 2022. All applications to the Small Woodland Grant Scheme must be made using the online system before the same date. Early applications are encouraged. 

Further details are available on the DAERA website. Alternatively, contact Forest Service on 028 6634 3103 or email: