The Department of Agriculture for the Irish Republic has announced that it will not be approving any new applications for forestry grants this year.
The move has sparked fears that eco-friendly initiatives like the Forest Road Grant Scheme, which allows farmers to build access roads to their plantations, will face the chop. It’s possible that woodland reconstruction and improvement programmes could also be under threat.
A spokesperson from the Department of Agriculture denied that forestry support schemes would be scrapped, despite a recent announcement of 9.1m Euros of cut-backs.
A forestry industry source spoke to The Irish Independent to say that the move to restrict forestry funding would damage confidence in the industry, particularly when many growers’ plantations approaching first thinning.
The source said: “This will have serious implications for the ordinary forest owner who will now be concerned about where funding will come from next year. Particularly worrying is that forestry is a long-term investment with rotations up to 35-40 years, and even longer for broadleaf species.
“Already, the Government has fallen far short of its 1996 strategy, which set out a target of 20,000ha of plantings each year. Last year, the level of planting stood at 7,000ha, and this year it’s expected that it could be even lower, at 6,500ha.”