Northern Ireland Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, has announced the next stage of the ‘Forests for Our Future’ programme by opening the Forest Expansion and Small Woodland Grant schemes.

The aim of the schemes is to encourage and help landowners plant their own woodlands.

The schemes can support all types of sustainable woodland, with the Small Woodland Grant Scheme being designed as a simple online scheme for new native woodlands of 0.2ha and larger.

The Forest Expansion Scheme supports native woodland, mixed woodland or commercial conifer woodland that can best meet land owners' business needs whilst contributing to a living, working, active landscape.

Successful applicants to the schemes will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premium payments for a 10-year period.

Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to announce the reopening of the Forest Expansion Scheme and Small Woodland Grant Scheme for 2022 on June 15.

“These schemes are designed to attract and support farmers and other landowners to plant new woodland to complement their land management activity and add to our valuable woodland assets.

“I am pleased that in the last year land owners planted 525ha of new woodland under forestry grant schemes support.

“This is an encouraging response on our journey to increase the level of afforestation needed to reach the targets set out in the challenging Forests for Our Future programme.

“The reopening of our forestry grant schemes will enable private land owners and public sector organisations to bring forward new woodland creation projects for the forthcoming planting season.”

Landowners who wish to plant this winter are reminded that all applications to the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by August 31, 2022.

All applications to the Small Woodland Grant Scheme must be made using the online system before August 31, 2022.