Forestry sector hails €1.3bn State cash for tree planting

Programme scheduled to increase the grant for planting native trees

The State will spend €1.32 billion on aiding tree planting across the Republic under Government proposals announced on Thursday. The Coalition has been under fire from the forestry industry since last year over its failure to meet new tree-planting targets.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Agriculture Ministers Charlie McConalogue and Senator Pippa Hackett proposed boosting tree-planting grants and yearly forestry payments to landowners by up to two-thirds.

Forest Industry Ireland (FII), the Ibec affiliate that has led criticism of the Government, hailed the move, calling it a “massive vote of confidence” in the sector’s future.

The programme promises to increase the grant for planting native trees, including alder, beech, oak and sycamore, to €6,744 a hectare from €5,620. It will raise yearly premium payments for native species to €1,103 a hectare from €665. It is timed to run from next year to 2027. The State will pay annual premiums over 10 to 20 years, depending on the type of forest planted.


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FII’s Mark McAuley calculated that total payments for commercial forest would increase to €155,000 from €77,000 currently. He noted that farmers would receive €220,000 for planting 10 hectares of native trees.

Mr Martin said the substantial aid reflected the seriousness with which Government viewed the threat of climate change. “Forestry is at the heart of delivering on our sustainability goals,” he added.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue added that tree-planting could add to farm incomes and help meet national climate-change objectives. “We intend to increase the premiums for planting trees by between 46 per cent and 66 per cent, and to extend the premium period from 15 to 20 years for farmers.”

Taxpayers will fund 100 per cent of the programme, which must get State aid approval from the EU Commission.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas