Forestry chief welcomes scheme

THE Irish Forest Industry Chain (IFIC) has welcomed the announcement by Forestry Minister Mary Wallace of a new Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS).

IFIC chairman George McCarthy said the new FEPS finally removes the barrier to forest planting by farmers participating in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).

“The additional premium of up to €200 for five years on every hectare of forestry planted under the new scheme on REPS farms will give renewed impetus to the forestry planting programme.

“When added to the new forestry premium it will mean a total annual payment of up to €750 per hectare on new forestry plantations on REPS farms. This will substantially boost income,” he said.

Mr McCarthy also welcomed the increase of 14% in forest planting grants and the 15% rise in the annual forest premium.

“Farmers who switch to forestry will earn a tax-free premium of between €400 and €575 per hectare for 20 years, depending on the tree species planted. This is substantially higher than the net income per hectare from drystock on many farms,” he said.

The IFIC chairman said the continuation of the concession whereby farmers can plant up to 50% of their farms and still retain their full single farm payment adds further to the attractiveness of forestry.

IFIC, the representative body for the forestry sector, is involved in a campaign to increase the level of farmer planting. Mr McCarthy said this campaign would intensify over the coming months.

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