Private farmers must help forestry targets to be met, says Teagasc

Government targets to have 17% of the land area of Ireland covered by forest will only be achieved if private landowners and farmers plant trees on their land, according to Teagasc

The Teagasc Forestry Development Department will focus specifically on afforestation and thinning at the Tullamore Show on Sunday.

Forestry development officer Liam Kelly said incentives, including a grant and an annual forest premium payment, are available to encourage private landowners to reach the 17% target.

He said: “The grant includes a payment system that usually covers the full cost of planting and establishing a young plantation. The grant is paid in two instalments, approximately three quarters in year one after planting, and the balance is paid two years later, upon successful establishment of the young forest.

“The grant rate is determined by the type of ground and species being planted. The annual forest premium is paid for 20 years in the case of a farmer and 15 years in the case of a non-farmer.

“In a farmer’s case, the rate varies between €369 and €515 per hectare. In the case of a non-farmer the rate is between €181 and €195 per hectare. These rates are applicable to enclosed farmland and are determined again by soil type and species that are planted.”

Mr Kelly said forest thinning in the private sector is under way on many sites as more and more farm forest sites reach their thinning age. “This is a new area for most private forest owners. Forest thinning is usually good management practice and normally ensures that each site reaches its full potential if carried out correctly and at the proper stages. Thinning provides an early source of timber, which benefits the crop, the land owner, and also the timber industry.”

Teagasc said anybody considering planting or thinning should visit the Forestry Development Department stand in the Forest and Energy Section at the Tullamore Show.

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