Just one public body has applied and been approved to the Department of Agriculture’s Creation of Woodland on Public Lands Scheme.

The scheme, launched in August of last year, aims to fund the creation of new native woodlands on publicly owned lands.

Iarnród Éireann was the first public body to engage with the scheme and have been approved an afforestation licence for an area of 4.33ha in Co Roscommon near the rail line at Carrick-on-Shannon in late 2020, a Department spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“Grant payments are eligible following establishment of the woodland in accordance with the scheme’s terms and conditions. It is anticipated that approximately 12,000 native trees will be planted on this site by Iarnród Éireann,” the spokesperson said.

Land bank analysis

A land bank analysis to ascertain the availability of publicly owned lands that may be suitable for creating these new native woodlands was carried out in late 2020.

It was targeted at 300 public bodies and preliminary results from the survey show that:

  • The majority of public bodies are landowners.
  • A high proportion of public bodies are aware of the Woodland Creation Scheme.
  • Nearly half of the public bodies that responded to the survey have reported that they have land available that might be suitable for the creation of new native woodlands.
  • With respect to developing the available land for woodlands, the majority of respondents were positive, with climate action and biodiversity being the main drivers, the Department said.