€1m scheme to help new forest owners affected by 2018 drought

Tomorrow, May 10, is the deadline for submission of applications in the new reconstitution scheme for forest owners whose plantations were affected by the 2018 drought. It is for trees planted between November 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

To qualify, an applicant’s entire plantation area must have experienced 30% or greater mortality of the initial stocking.

Surveys conducted last autumn indicated that a variety of young forest types, planted between November and June, were affected by drought losses. Reinstating these losses, and maintaining required forestry standards, present a significant financial challenge to owners.

For that reason, the Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme (Drought) is introduced, to financially support affected owners and their foresters. The scheme is wholly funded by the exchequer, up to a budgetary maximum of €1 million, and de minimis rules apply.

Participation in the scheme is voluntary.

There is a 17-page guide to the grant terms and conditions on the www.agriculture.gov.ie website.

Typically, mature trees and trees in forest situations can deal with periodic drought, due to deep rooting systems and shading and protection of soil from the effects of evaporation, even over prolonged periods.

But recently planted trees are more likely to undergo moisture stress, due to their less well-developed root systems, shallow rooting, and the absence of canopy shading.

The grant may be claimed (Form 2) immediately after reconstitution, and not later than November 15, 2019.

Only land afforested under the Afforestation Scheme, Native Woodland Scheme, NeighbourWood Scheme, or Reconstitution of Woodland (Ash Dieback) is eligible.

Applications will be ineligible if the Afforestation Form 2 was submitted after November 1, 2018, and no Form 2A was submitted at the time.

There should be no change in GPC categories, and care is needed that replacement plants do not alter the GPC.

No payment will be made for any damage that was insured.

Where an excess applies for forest owners who have insurance, grant payments will only be made up to this excess.

Eligible expenditure includes costs for replacement plants, planting, one vegetation control, and management costs (maximum 30% of direct costs).

If applications exceed the budgetary limit of €1m, consideration will be given to reducing the grant rate, or revising other scheme criteria.

Minister of State Andrew Doyle said:

I am very aware of the financial hardship experienced by landowners whose trees failed due to the extreme drought of Summer 2018

“I am now announcing this reconstitution scheme, which offers a tiered payment system for private forest owners who replace those dead trees.”

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