Farmers and landowners can now claim grant aid of up to €6,000/ha for restoring and enhancing native woodland on top of an ecosystems service payment of €500/ha each year for seven years.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett announced the payment rates with the opening of the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme (WCS).

Among the measures which will be grant aided will be the removal on non-native trees, the removal of invasive species and the protection of native woodland from deer or livestock.

Proposed restoration and enhancement measures will need to be approved by both an ecologist and a registered forester before grant aided management works can commence.

Preserving resources

The scheme is targeted at under-managed forests and was developed with forestry stakeholders including Woodlands of Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Heritage Council, and Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Minister Hackett said that the country’s native woodlands are a “precious resource” which support a “wide variety of ecosystem functions and services”.

“They protect and enhance our biodiversity, soil and water quality, while mitigating the challenges that we face through climate change,” the minister said.

“I am delighted that we can reward and support native woodland owners so that they can manage and conserve these forests.”

Those who applied for the previous native woodland scheme under the forestry programme which ran up to 2020 and who did not receive approval will be contacted by the Department of Agriculture informing them of their options.

Correspondence will also issue to those who received approval under this previous scheme but who had yet to commence works.