The Forest Service within DAERA is actively buying farmland across NI with the intention of establishing trees.

A spokesperson for DAERA confirmed that 73 hectares (ha) of land has recently been acquired in Co Fermanagh and “offers on a small number of parcels” in other parts of NI are currently being made.

In March 2020, DAERA announced a commitment to create 9,000 ha of new woodland by 2030, equivalent to 900 ha being planted annually.

Whilst tree planting has increased since then, the latest official figures show DAERA is behind target with 451 ha of new woodland established in the 2022/23 financial year.

“Delivery will involve supporting woodland expansion, primarily by private landowners and availing of opportunities to acquire land in the public sector where it is considered to be in the public interest to do so,” the spokesperson said.

The presence of DAERA in the market for farmland is likely to lead to increased competition among potential buyers and could push prices up further, especially for marginal type land.

On enquiry, the department spokesperson said the recent land acquisition in Co Fermanagh was “funded through DAERA capital budgeting processes”.


“The land was purchased through private sales at a value determined by negotiation between the vendors and the Government’s Land and Property Services,” the spokesperson said.

The plan is for the land to be planted with a range of tree species, depending on each particular site.

“These will include a range of broadleaf trees such as oak, birch, rowan, and conifers for example Scots pine, Norway spruce and Sitka spruce. The planting proposed will integrate with existing trees in the surrounding area,” the spokesperson said.