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O’Neill announces opening of new £17.4million Forestry Grant Schemes

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Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced the opening of new Forestry Grant Schemes under the Rural Development Programme.

Minister O’Neill has allocated up to £17.4million to support woodland expansion and sustainable management of existing woodland. Three Forestry Grant Schemes are being launched today; The Forest Expansion Scheme; The Forest Protection Scheme and Woodland Investment Grant.

The Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Launching the schemes Minister O’Neill said: “I am pleased to announce that the Forestry Grant Schemes are now open for funding applications under the Rural Development Programme for 2014-20.

“I have allocated up to £17.4million to support woodland expansion and the sustainable management of existing woodland, which is sufficient to create 1,800 hectares of new woodland and sustain approximately 4,000 hectares created under previous programmes. This will make a small but positive contribution towards my aim of achieving 12% woodland cover by the middle of this century.

“Our forests are enjoyed by communities and there is a clear consensus about the need to increase our woodland area to counter the impact of climate change, to provide a habitat for wildlife and places for people to relax and unwind from stress and take part in physical exercise. The three Forestry Grant Schemes I’m launching today will help deliver these needs.”

In addition to these forestry payments, the current EU rules provide for payment of Basic Payment Scheme for the 20 year duration of the Forest Expansion Scheme on eligible land which is then planted with trees under the Forest Expansion Scheme.

For further details of these Schemes and advice on how to apply an information booklet and application form are available on the DARD websiteexternal link or contact Forest Service on tel. 028 6634 3019 or email:[email protected]. Applications for the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by 3pm Monday 4 January 2016 for the 2015/16 planting season.

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