While the afforestation programme continues to fall, Green Belt’s Ger Moroney maintains that there is strong interest in planting by farmers. This is a view shared by CEO of Western Forestry Co-op Marina Conway. They agreed that licences for afforestation were way behind and emergency legislation was needed to clear some of the backlog, along with FAC hearing licence appeals, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Grants up to €6,220/ha cover all establishment costs. Annual tax-free premium payments of €680 are available for Native Woodland Schemes. Since the introduction of the 30% broadleaves requirement, an average annual premium of around €600/ha for a conifer-broadleaf crop is achievable. Supports, such as a €750/ha payment for tending and thinning broadleaves, are available at a later stage, while grants are provided to cover the costs of building harvesting roads.