Forestry continues to be supported and recognised as an industry that provides an alternative income to farmers for the planting and management of their forests.
In addition the industry provides employment predominately in the rural communities for more than 16,000 people, in the growing, harvesting and processing of forest products.
In a recent circular from the Minister of state for forestry, Shane McEntee stated, “Despite our economic difficulties, the Government recognises the importance of forestry to the economy, as evidenced by the maintenance of funding for the sector at levels close to what was provided in 2011. Our 2012 funding is strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to forestry at a time when there are significant adjustments in all areas of public expenditure.
The allocation covers afforestation grants, ongoing premium commitments and the support schemes, which are vital for the successful management of the forest estate. Timber as a raw material is in demand and this demand has the potential to increase significantly over the next 20 years, where in addition to the traditional outlets in the wood processing sector, the demand for wood energy has continued to increase”.
Minister of State McEntee added, “Funding for approximately 7,000 hectares of planting, as well as for the other schemes in the programme has been provided. As ever, the principal task will be to spend the money both efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the sector and the wider economy”.
A review of the Woodland Improvement (Tending and Thinning of Broadleaves) Scheme has now been completed and the Scheme is re-opening immediately to new applicants with processing of existing applications for approval re-commencing. There are no changes to the Scheme conditions or rates of payment.
Also following completion of the consultative process with stakeholders it has been decided to also re-open the Forest Roads Scheme with the following changes:
* Maximum rate per linear metre to reduce from €45 to €35.
* Payments will be made net of VAT, regardless of applicants VAT status.
* Road density to be reduced from 25 linear metres per hectare to 20 linear metres per hectare.
* The construction of a “Standard back in type loading bay” or a “Standard loading bay with internal turning area” may be grant aided where the area allows. Pull-in lay byes (longitudinal loading bays) along public roads may be considered on a case by case basis at an equivalent roading of 60m where the area allows. Apart from a loading bay, only the minimum amount of roadway required will be grant aided to ensure forwarding distances do not exceed a maximum of 500 metres.
* The forest road grant scheme is limited to farmers and private forest owners and companies. Public authorities and state owned companies are not eligible for grant aid for forest road development.
If you would like to receive a free consultation or find out more about any of the above schemes please contact me, Fearghal Kealey, Forest and Tree Services Limited, (086) 3207800. (057) 9320621, www.forestandtree.ie