In a recent Department circular (03/2022) Native Woodland (NW) Scheme and Planting Mixtures a number of changes have been made to the NW conservation scheme and the NW establishment scheme – as represented by Grant Premium Categories (GPCs) 9 and 10.
The changes were necessary “due to the limited availability of suitable planting material derived from suitable sources within Ireland, particularly for minor tree species”.
The circular amends planting mixtures for the remainder of the 2021/2022 planting season. The changes apply to the following five NW scheme scenarios and are the only changes to the Native Woodland Scheme Framework.
Scenario 1 applies to podzol soils identified as oak-birch-holly woodland.
Pedunculate oak is to be planted in predominantly pure groups, with one-fifth of the required downy birch scattered intimately throughout. Scots pine must be planted in small pure groups, focusing on parts of the plot with free-draining soil (if present) and away from any watercourses adjoining or crossing the plot. The remainder of the downy birch is to be planted in pure groups.
Scenario 2 applies to brown podzol soils identified as oak- birch-holly with hazel woodland.
Pedunculate oak is to be planted in predominantly pure groups, with one-fifth of the required hazel and downy birch scattered intimately throughout. Scots pine must be planted in small pure groups on free-draining areas of the plot, particularly on slopes. Remainder of the birch and hazel must be planted as pure groups.
Minor species required include at least two of the following; hawthorn, holly, rowan, crab apple. These species need to be planted during the maintenance period, along the edge of the emerging canopy and/or alongside hedgerows. All necessary filling-in of oak mortalities to use sessile oak suitable for use under the NW scheme.
Scenario 3 applies to brown earths, identified as oak-ash-hazel woodland.
Pedunculate oak is to be planted predominantly in groups, with one-fifth of the required downy birch and hazel scattered intimately throughout.
Scots pine is to be planted in small pure groups on free-draining areas of the plot, particularly on slopes. Remainder of the birch and hazel must be planted as pure groups. Hawthorn should be planted strategically along boundaries/hedges and around oak groupings.
Minor species include at least three of the following; holly, spindle, rowan and crab apple, while alder is accepted on wetter areas.
Species need to be planted during the maintenance period, along the edge of the emerging canopy and/or alongside hedgerows. Minor species to be filled in along edges or increase buffer zone by hedgerows.
Scenario 4 applies to gleys identified as alder-oak-ash woodland.
Minor species required include at least two of the following; hawthorn, holly, hazel, guelder rose. These species must be planted during the maintenance period, along the edge of the emerging canopy and/or by hedgerows.
Scenario 5 (A, B and C)
Scenario 5 is subdivided into the following soil types:
The sessile oak component of scenario 5 can be replaced with pedunculate oak. All other species selection and conditions remain as existing NW scheme framework.
At Form 3 stage, provenance certificates need to be submitted for minor species in scenarios 1-4 and oak for filling-in in scenarios 1 and 2.
The establishment grant for GPC 9 is €6,220/ha, made up of €4,215 (first grant), €1,405 (second grant) and €600 (fencing allocation up to 140m/ha). The establishment grant for GPC 10 is €5,880/ha, comprising €3,960 (first grant), €1,320 (second grant) and €600 for a fencing allocation up to 140m/ha. The annual NW scheme establishment premium is for 15 years. The premium is €665/ha if the area is less than 10ha and €680/ha if over 10ha. Same premium rates apply to GPC 9 and 10.
An amended Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme has been introduced to support plantation owners who have experienced tree losses of 30% or greater due to frost damage. Ireland experienced two severe late spring frosts in May 2019 and 2020, while a lesser frost occurred in May last year. These have been exceptional years, as late spring frosts usually arise once every decade.
They can cause serious damage to young trees when they are coming into leaf and are less than 2m in height. Normally, young forest crops can withstand very low temperatures outside this period, with the exception of early autumn frosts.
In the case of frost-damaged plantations (established between 1 November 2014 and 1 June 2021), the new reconstitution scheme will:
All remedial work must conform to Department silvicultural and environmental standards. Foresters should consult the Department’s “Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme – Frost Damage.”