Lyons urges NI farmers to get planting before time runs out

Environment Minister Gordon Lyons has reminded NI farmers and landowners that they’ve only a few weeks left to apply for funding to plant native woodlands.

The deadline for the £4 million Small Woodland Grant Scheme, which is part of the ‘Forests for Our Future’ programme, is Sunday, February 28, 2021.

Minister Lyons said: “Our pledge to plant 18 million trees by 2030 and create 9,000ha of new woodland will help our environment, health, economy and society as a whole.

To date, 670,000 trees have already been planted under the Forests for Our Future programme and they will help to capture carbon from the atmosphere as they grow and improve our landscape and biodiversity.

“Forests for Our Future is a foundation programme within the Executive’s Green Growth strategy, which I am leading on.

“It aims to transform our society towards net-zero carbon by 2050, protect and enhance our environment and to sustainably grow the economy.

“The Small Woodland Grant Scheme is for farmers and other landlords, including estate owners, charities and local authorities, to plant native trees to complement their existing holdings and land management.

“The number of applications for the scheme has been encouraging and this will help us achieve our ambitious target,” Minister Lyons explained.

How to apply

Applications can be submitted for areas down to 0.2ha. The new scheme is simple to apply for using an online application and approval system; it provides a planting plan and map for applicants and grant is paid on a standard rate basis.

The grant scheme will operate under the Area Based Scheme processes and all applicants require a DAERA Business ID to apply.

The Small Woodland Grant Scheme establishment grant is paid at £2,925/ha, 80% in Year 1 and the remaining 20% in Year 5.

A fencing grant is also available where necessary to secure the new woodland.

Annual Premia are payable over a 10-year period where the land to be planted is in agricultural use.

The schemes are funded through the Rural Development Programme, part-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and DAERA.