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             FORESTRY NEWS

  • Minister Doyle Congratulates Forestry Groups on Achieving FSC Certification

    Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle T.D., congratulated the North East Forestry Certification Club (NEFCC) and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society (FOCS) on achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Group certification, at a function in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire 30th April last.

    The Minister of State outlined that 'The lack of certification, and difficulties in gaining it, are obstacles that have to be addressed if we are to get a return, and maximise the return, from our forests'. For more information, see Press Release

  • Mid Term Review = Higher rates for new forestry planting and more ...

    Higher rates and premiums are being introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for new forestry planting following the completion of the midterm review (MTR) of measures in the current Forestry Programme (2014 -2020). As part of the MTR, forestry planting targets were compared against the outturn for 2015 and 2016 and reasons identified for non-achievement of targets, following which measures were proposed to help address barriers to achieving these targets.

    It was noted that the total area of new forests for which payments issued in the years from 2015 to 2017 was some 7% less than the targets set at the beginning of the Programme. Lower than expected planting activity for native woodlands, agroforestry and forestry for fibre during this period indicated that 2018 -2020 afforestation levels may not be achieved within existing structures, while it was also considered that a broadleaf planting target of 30% of overall planting would not be reached.

    The MTR included a public call for submissions, consideration of the submissions received, the circulation of resultant draft proposals, consultation meetings with stakeholders and the European Commission and the undertaking of a Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment screening exercise on the draft proposals. The aim of the proposals, which have now been agreed, may be grouped as follows:

    To promote greater species and habitat diversity

    • Higher grant and premium rates have been introduced to encourage more broadleaf and diverse conifer planting. The minimum mandatory requirement per site has been increased from 10% to 15% broadleaves. Additional support for broadleaf management is also included in the MTR in the form of a second thinning grant.
    • Tree guards and deer fencing grants are also being introduced as part of a new "Forest Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme" to reduce the risk of deer damage for existing broadleaf forests.
    • A new continuous cover forestry measure has been included as part of the Woodland Improvement Scheme which will generate more diverse habitats for wildlife by creating forests with a more varied age structure.
    • A higher grant rate is being offered to publicly owned native woodlands to initiate the participation of this sector in the native woodland conservation scheme which will enhance biodiversity and generate wider ecosystem services in these forest types.

    To support the mobilisation of private timber

    • In line with the COFORD Mobilisation Working Group objectives, measures are being introduced to support private forest owners to help manage their forests in a productive and sustainable manner.
    • As well as support for forestry groups that may want to amalgamate to create larger groups, funding is being proposed for a national knowledge transfer group (KTG) scheme for forestry (subject to successful completion of the KTG pilot).
    • An enhanced forest management plan scheme will also be launched that includes options for pursuing certification.

    To encourage farmers to consider forestry as part of the farming mix

    • Improved grant and premium rates for agroforestry and forestry for fibre have been included following the MTR which may encourage some farmers to consider forestry as a possible option on their farm alongside other farming activities.
    • Additional incentives are also being introduced to further encourage the use of IS436 over non IS436 fencing. While representing better value for money in the longer term this incentive may also make it possible for more farmers to plant trees on a portion of their land.

    Some of the key measures being introduced to support private forest owners to help manage their forests in a productive and sustainable manner are as follows:

    Forest Road Scheme: Road density to increase from 20m/ha to 25m/ha

    Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS): All broadleaved forests, including mixtures eligible for 2nd thinning grants of ?500/ha. 3 payments of ?750/ha to support the transition to continuous cover forestry

    Native Woodland Conservation: Increase the grant available under the Public High Forest category to that of the Private High Forest. Allow access to forest fencing and tree shelter scheme.

    New National Knowledge Transfer Group scheme for forest owners
    An important aim of the Department is to foster a "culture" of forestry amongst private forest owners. Knowledge transfer (KT) groups, similar to the beef and sheep KT groups currently in operation in general agriculture, are being developed by the Department as a learning tool to provide forest management knowledge to private forest owners so that they can better manage their forests. A KTG pilot project has just been completed which involved 270 forest owners. The result of the pilot was very positive with the result that a national KTG scheme is in the pipeline for 2018.

    New forest certification scheme
    Forest certification is a voluntary process used by forestry owners to reassure consumers that the wood and wood products they buy come from sustainably managed forests. Certification independently assesses forest management planning and practices against a sustainable forest management standard. According to the COFORD Wood Mobilisation Group Report (2015) few privately owned forests (estimated to total less than 1,000 hectares) are certified under the FSC or the PEFC label in Ireland.

    As the level of supply from the private sector increases, the lack of certification is likely to become a barrier to wood mobilisation. In fact many thousands of hectares of private woodland are approaching the stage of first, and subsequent, thinnings, resulting in a sharp increase in supply of logs from this source in the near future. There is a 30% limit to the volume of uncertified material processors can absorb and the supply of timber from private forests is already close to exceeding this figure. On occasion, it has already been exceeded resulting in instances of private sales being turned away, or at the very least postponed. COFORD's All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016 -2035 shows that roundwood production from private forests is already at 24% and will reach 30% in terms of net realisable volume in 2021.

    Ireland's forest industry is export driven with overseas markets demanding certified timber. In 2010, for example, Ireland became a net exporter of sawn wood and, in 2014, almost ?200m of panel board was exported, mostly to the UK and BENELUX countries. As the volume of uncertified timber increases, the more difficult it may become to find export markets for Irish timber products manufactured from uncertified private sources. This could have a very serious impact on Ireland's export orientated forest processing sector. It is critical for Ireland's forest industry and the potential for growth that exists within that sector, that access to these markets is maintained.

    The need for certification is therefore becoming an issue for both growers and buyers/processors. The issue for private forest owners in the future may not be the additional income generated from certified timber but rather the ability to sell their timber if it remains uncertified. The Department is therefore seeking to address this uncertainty by putting in place a means of encouraging private forest owners to achieve certification.

    The Department accordingly funded a pilot group certification project involving the North East Forestry Group and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society based in Co Cork. The aim of this project was to develop a template and delivery system for FSC certification, and to establish two certification groups, one in the north and one in the south of the country. In order to maintain the momentum generated by this project, which is due to finish in May 2018, the Department is planning to put a new scheme in place in late 2018. This scheme will facilitate forest owners in joining certification groups.

    A summary of the main changes to the Afforestation Scheme is as follows, with details of the grants and premiums outlined in the table.

    • Increase of 2% in grant for Grant and Premium Categories [GPCs] 1 to 3
    • 7% increase in grant and 5% increase in premium for GPCs 4-10
    • Agro forestry and forestry for fibre increases
    • Increase of 2% in premium for those who plant over 10 hectares
    • Increase in fencing cap across all GPC's (from 120m to 140m per hectare)
    • Broadleaf component at plantation level to increase from 10% to 15%
    • New forest deer fencing and tree shelter scheme

    Mid Term Review New Grants

  • Doyle launches New Felling Guidance Tool to help maximise returns from Forestry

    Minister Andrew Doyle TD today launched the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine's Felling Decision Tool for conifers. The tool provides guidance to forest owners on when to fell their forest to obtain the best return from their forest asset.

    Speaking at the launch Minister Doyle said, "The importance of deciding when to clear-fell and its impact on returns should not be underestimated. This tool will assist forest owners in making a more informed decision on clear-felling. The tool clearly shows that rotation length has a very significant impact on the return a grower will get from his or her crop. It is vital that landowners have a positive experience from their forestry investments and that revenue from the first rotation facilitates reforestation to continue the forest cycle. "

    The Minister went on to say "It is also important at a national level, from a roundwood supply and wood quality perspective that rotation lengths are of ample length to allow the production of sufficient quantities of valuable sawlog-sized material to support an expanding sawmill sector. By launching this tool today we are endeavouring to underpin this level of production in a sustainable way, by providing the best available information, to all those involved in managing forests and in providing advice to owners."

    The tool is available for use at DAFM Website , with an accompanying COFORD Connects Note for guidance. For further details on the Felling Decision Tool please contact John Redmond (johnj.redmond@agriculture.gov.ie).

  • Doyle Welcomes Initiative to Facititate Forest Certification

    Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle, T.D., with responsibility for forestry, has welcomed the development of a template for private forest owners to establish certification groups.

    Noting that timber processors may only take in a maximum of 30% of uncertified timber if they wish to retain their certification status and continue to have access to the UK and European markets, the Minister of State commented, "I am aware that there is growing concern amongst processors and forest owners alike that the lack of certification for private forest owners would hinder access to timber markets. The signing of the contract which encompasses the establishment of two certification groups, one in the north and one in the south, is an important milestone for Ireland?s growing forest industry as it represents a gateway to certification for private forest owners thereby removing a potential barrier to the timber market".

    Minister Doyle was referring to the signature of the contract, on 14th November 2016, for the development of the template. The contract is with an international consortium led by Commercial Forestry Services Ltd., in partnership with The Forestry Company, UK Forest Certification Ltd. and the Soil Association Certification Ltd (UK). Key contributors to the project are Teagasc and the two participating forestry groups, North East Forestry Group and Forest Owners Co-operative Society. The signing of the contract was followed by an inaugural meeting at which the project timetable was outlined and forest management plans exchanged. It is intended that the project itself will be completed in May 2018 and will deliver the tools for other forestry groups, forestry companies and individual foresters to organise forest owners for the purpose of gaining certification.

    Wishing the project every success, Minister Doyle added that "the aim of my Department with regard to forest certification is to help put in place the necessary structure that will allow forest owners to become certified in a cost effective and sustainable manner. Once the certification groups have been established, the focus will be on growing the groups in terms of both area and in terms of the number of members. This can only be achieved with the co-operation of the industry as a whole and I am pleased to note the important linkages within this certification project".

  • DOYLE WELCOMES BUDGET 2017 ALLOCATION FOR FORESTRY, HORTICULTURE, ORGANICS AND GREYHOUND SECTORS

    The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle TD has today welcomed the allocation in Budget 2017. Expenditure next year will amount to €111.6 million for the Forestry Programme, €16 million for Bord na gCon, €5 million in capital investment for the commercial horticulture sector, and €10 million for the organics sector.

    Forestry
    €111.6m (including a capital carryover) will be made available for forestry development during 2017. This level of funding is further evidence of the Government's ongoing commitment to the sector as set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020. It will ensure continued progress in the drive towards increased forest cover and mobilisation of the existing timber and biomass resource, two core objectives necessary for growing Ireland's timber processing industry. The level of funding provided is also significant given the recent EU proposals on climate change mitigation and the potential role of forestry in helping to achieve the targets set.

    Minister Doyle said, "The funding being provided will allow for over 7,100ha of new forests to be planted almost 800ha more than the total area planted in 2015. Most importantly for the development of existing forests, funding will be provided for 110 km of new forest roads and for forest management initiatives which will improve the productivity of our forests while maintaining the highest environmental standards".

    "Payments under the new reconstitution Scheme to help farmers affected by the winter storms of 2013 and 2014 will also commence in 2017," he added.

  • MINISTER CREED ANNOUNCES OPENING OF WINDBLOW RECONSTITUTION SCHEME

    Michael Creed, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, announced today the opening of a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme, the purpose of which is to provide financial aid to land owners whose plantations were damaged by storm force winds that occurred between 5th December 2013 and 12th February 2014, with the most severe windstorm, named ‘Storm Darwin’, on 12th February 2014. The frequency and ferocity of these storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, led to extensive damage on forest lands, affecting some 8,000 hectares overall.

    Announcing the Scheme, Minister Creed said "Many private forest owners suffered significant financial loss both in terms of the value of timber lost and the cost in re-establishing the sites affected. Negotiations in relation to a scheme to assist in the reconstitution of the forests affected had been ongoing for some time and I am particularly pleased that my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is now in a position to make a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme available to those forest owners. The State will make a financial contribution towards the cost of replanting these sites as a once off measure for this specific weather event".

    The Minister advised those affected that "Forest owners of conifer forests planted after the 1st December 1989 will be eligible to apply and those with broadleaves planted after the 1st December 1983 can apply". A maximum grant of €1,700 per hectare up to a total of 10 hectares will be made available under the Scheme to those private forest owners meeting the eligibility criteria. The budget allocated to the Scheme can provide funding in respect of a total of 2,000 hectares. In the event of applications received exceeding that amount, a selection process will be undertaken after the closing date for receipt of applications in an effort to ensure that funding is allocated on an equitable basis to favour those forests which suffered the greatest loss.

    The Minister took the opportunity to remind forest owners of the importance of insuring their forests in order to protect their valuable resource. He added that, "while insurance is not compulsory, the financial interest of the forest owner is best served though a comprehensive insurance package and I encourage forest owners to safeguard their investment in their forests".

    Scheme details along with the application form will be available from the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/grantsandpremiumschemes2015-2016/ during the week beginning 12th September 2016. The closing date for receipt of applications will be 24th February 2017.

  • Housebuilding Boosts Timber Frame Market in 2016

    A report on the 2016 Timber Frame Market from MTW Research suggests the industry continues to outperform the UK economy, despite slowing slightly from recent double digit growth. Based on data from 80% of the timber frame market, the research found that 2016 profitability continues to strengthen as demand rises from housebuilding and commercial construction. However, MTW notes that there is some evidence of likely deceleration in growth for timber frame sales in H2 2016, though healthy trading patterns are forecast for 2017 and beyond.

    According to the 200 page report, rising volume demand for timber frame homes over the last few years has sustained optimism with increasing market opportunities at both lower and higher value ends of the market in 2016. This has underpinned the timber frame market with MTW reporting some 80% of timber frame suppliers having good or excellent credit ratings in 2016.

    Discussing future prospects, MTW's research executive James Taylor commented, "Sustained demand for new housing, coupled with advances in timber frame technologies are set to stimulate growth in the timber frame market in the medium to longer term." Identifying a number of positive factors, the report forecasts sales growth of more than 30% by 2020, underlining healthy opportunities and a promising future for the timber frame market.

    Cost and sustainability, lower waste arising and greater thermal efficiencies amongst other issues continue to support the specification of timber frame, with the research finding that timber has continued to gain share of the UK construction market.

    The research uncovered some 60% of timber frame suppliers now reporting growth, underlining optimism for the majority of the timber frame market. However, MTW also point to a 'two tier market' in 2016 with some 20% of suppliers experiencing difficulties in terms of flat or declining sales, tightening margins and pressure on financial liquidity.

    The report highlights that housebuilding levels are some 31% higher than in 2010, with timber frame sales having risen faster than the overall housebuilding market.

    See the website www.marketresearchreports.co.uk

  • DOYLE HIGHLIGHTS MEASURES TO ENCOURAGE WOOD MOBILISATION

    Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle, TD, speaking at the opening of the National Forestry Conference highlighted the availability of grants under his Department's Forest Road Scheme, the aim of which is to encourage and assist in the mobilisation of timber. The conference, the focus of which was 'Wood Mobilisation', took place on June 1st in the Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield, Co. Meath.

    Minister of State Doyle, to whom responsibility for forestry was recently assigned, commented that the Conference was one of his first opportunities to meet and talk with people involved in the forestry sector. The Minister of State added that, as well as ensuring that there is a continuous and ongoing programme of afforestation to supply Irish sawmills and timber processing industry, "we must also maximise the volume of raw material that is harvested from our existing forests, not just roundwood for our processers but also the less traditional assortments for our growing renewable energy sector".

    In his address to the Conference, the Minister of State updated the attendance on a range of measures currently being progressed by this Department under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020. In this context, he referred to the development of a Forest Machine Operator training course and the proposed establishment of forest certification groups, both of which would contribute to the mobilisation of timber and meeting demand for certified timber. He also noted the recent launch of the Irish Timber Growers Association Wood Price Quarterly initiative, adding that "While the ITGA's roundwood price database has been in operation since 2005, important information on the value of a forest owner's timber crop is now available to all for the first time. This information will be invaluable to forest owners when assessing the market or making decisions on thinning and felling sales."

    Commenting on the range of topics and notable speakers participating in the Conference, Minister of State Doyle thanked the Wood Marketing Federation and the Society of Irish Foresters for organising the Conference as well as the companies, industry representative bodies and agencies who made it possible through their support and participation.

  • Wood production from our forests set to more than double

    The COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast has just been released as an advanced version subject to final text editing and makes exciting reading for the sector, see;

    COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035 (Advance version, subject to final text editing)

    As with the previous forecast in 2011, the roundwood supply will increase significantly over the next two decades, with almost all of the increase coming from privately-owned forests. The forecast net realisable volume from our forests will increase from c. 3.95 million cubic metres (m) in 2016 to 7.87 million m3 by 2035. When compared with the previous forecast over the common reporting period 2016-2028, there are relatively small differences in total volume - 66.33 million m3 compared with the previous forecast estimate of 66.04 million m3, however, there are year-on-year differences of up to +/-14% in forecast.

    The potential wood fibre available for energy and other uses totals c. 58.2 million m3 over the period of the forecast when you exclude the volume of small roundwood from the Coillte estate which is assumed to go to the Panelboard mills. The wood fibre volume increases steadily from c. 1.8 million m3 in 2016 to c. 4.2 million m3 in 2035. The increase is due mainly to the increasing volume of downgrade and wood residues in line with the increasing roundwood volume available as outlined in the forecast.
    With over half of the forest estate less than 20 years old, timber production, economic output and employment in the sector are set to grow significantly. Ireland's forestry and timber sector is an emerging success story currently employing an estimated 12,000 people. It comprises a vibrant forest products sector with state-of-the-art boardmills and sawmills and exporting most of its product output.

  • MINISTER HAYES LAUNCHES "LAND AVAILABILITY FOR AFFORESTATION - Exploring opportunities for expanding Ireland’s forest resource"

    Minister of State for Forestry, Tom Hayes has launched Land Availability for Afforestation, - Exploring opportunities for expanding Ireland’s forest resource. The report has been compiled under the auspices of the Council for Forest Research and Development - COFORD.

    Speaking at the launch today Minister Hayes said "I want to thank Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, chair of the COFORD Land Availability Working Group and all the members of the group for compiling this report. It is a really important piece of work and one, I have no doubt, that will help us greatly in terms of land classification for afforestation. I am sure it will help to realise our ambitions to expand the forest land resource of the country. Together with the new Environmental Requirements for Afforestation that are now being finalised by the Department, this new land classification system gives us the tools to push on with our ambitious afforestation programme."

    The report outlines the physical land resource that is potentially available for afforestation and makes a series of recommendations on how to increase the level of planting.

    The Minister continued "as part of this process we have secured a Forestry Programme to 2020, which plans to expand forest cover by a further 43,000 hectares. This package includes attractive grant aid and premium payments, to all landowners, over a 15-year period, who afforest a part of their land holding. It is a fantastic investment opportunity and one that has the potential to contribute significantly to landowners' incomes".

    Quoting from the report the Minister added, "On lands classified as being 'limited' for agriculture, representing 1.8 million hectares, there is wider scope for afforestation. These lands have a higher proportion of difficult soils, often economically marginal for agriculture, with forestry presenting a viable alternative land use option."

    The Minister concluded by saying, "the take home message of this report is that there is a land asset in Ireland that is eminently suitable to support an increase in forest cover. By examining and implementing recommendations that the report contains, allied to a collective will and capacity, I am convinced that over the coming years we will go a long way towards completing the task of restoring the national forest resource."

    The report can be downloaded from www.coford.ie

  • Supporting growth, transparency and diversification of international timber trade

    The new web portal www.timbertradeportal.com is an answer of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) to the numerous questions timber traders have when it comes to legal timber trade, due diligence, country requirements and export. It serves as a central information point, where you can find country profiles on both timber industry and legislation of producer countries, mainly located in tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America. Between the end of 2015 and mid 2016 the first selection of 23 country profiles will be published.

    To satisfy the due diligence requirements of various EU and other regulations, documentary evidence is required to show that suppliers are operating in accordance with national laws and regulations and this website may help with potential questions when it comes to timber trade, due diligence, country requirements and exports, etc

  • Minister Hayes launches the 2016 ITGA Forestry and Timber Yearbook

    The 2016 ITGA Forestry and Timber Yearbook was launched by Tom Hayes TD, Minister of State for forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Speaking at the launch, the Minister said "this publication remains one of the most important sources of information and reference points for those working in the forestry and timber sectors. This has been a significant year for the Forestry sector with the launch of the new Forestry Programme 2016-2020".The yearbook is the 27th Edition and has grown into a substantial 200 page publication.

    The mainstay of the publication is the industry directory containing companies, businesses and organisations in the forestry and timber sectors. As a result it has become an essential reference for forestry practitioners, growers and the wider industry.

  • MINISTER COVENEY LAUNCHES FOOD WISE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

    In December 2015 the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, announced the publication of the Implementation Plan for Food Wise 2025. Food Wise 2025, the new strategy for the development of the agri food and forestry sectors over the next decade, was drawn up by an independent committee of stakeholders and experts.

    "The Food Wise Implementation Plan forms the final part of the Food Wise strategy process", Minister Coveney said. "It sets out a robust implementation process, driven by a High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC) which I chair personally, involving senior officials from all relevant Government Departments and State Agencies".

    Sustainability is at the core of Food Wise which states that "environmental protection and economic competitiveness should be considered as equal and complementary: one will not be achieved at the expense of the other." Food Wise 2025 therefore set out a range of specific recommendations aimed at managing the projected growth in a sustainable way, while protecting and improving the environment.

    "The Implementation Plan includes a supplementary list of Food Wise 2025 sustainability actions and recommendations, in response to the final Environmental Analysis report", the Minister concluded. A Sustainability Sub Group of the HLIC will focus specifically on monitoring and driving the implementation of the sustainability actions.

  • Forestry Sector allocated €113.8 million in budget and forestry income removed from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers

    €113.8m will be made available under the Forestry Programme in 2016. This will provide for existing premia payments and support the planting of approximately 7,000 hectares of new forests. "These new forests, in addition to their eventual value as a raw material for the processing industry, will make an important contribution towards meeting climate emission targets through carbon sequestration and fossil fuel replacement" said Minister Hayes TD.

    Agri –Taxation Measures
    Minister Coveney TD stated in his Budget 2016 press release that 'the removal of forestry income from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers, means that clear-felling income will be tax-free.'

    Referring to the removal of forestry income from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers is significant measure in support of national forestry policy, Minister Hayes said "I believe that this is a very progressive move, the benefits of which will be felt long into the future".

  • Capital Acquisitions Tax- Agricultural Relief- Finance Act 2014 changes - Frequently Asked Questions

    Finance Act 2014 made changes to the capital acquisitions tax (CAT) relief that is available for gifts and inheritances of agricultural property and assets (Agricultural Relief).

    A Guide to farming taxation measures contained in Finance Act 2014 (PDF, 79KB) is available. This includes details, inter alia, of the CAT changes. Part 11 of the CAT Manual (Agricultural Relief) (PDF, 153KB) has now been updated to make it more comprehensive and to reflect the Finance Act 2014 changes. The Q & A's at http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/ebrief/2015/no-682015.html deal with these changes and Q.5 and others relate to forestry.

  • Neighbourwoods

    The NeighbourWood (NBR) Scheme is a measure in the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 which is focused on delivering social benefits of forestry to local communities. The NeighbourWood Scheme enables local communities to create, in co-operation with Local Authorities or other public bodies, 'close to home' woodlands. A neighbourwood can be a stand-alone amenity, or can be linked with other amenities and attractions in the area, such as parkland, historical buildings, visitor attractions and wider walking or cycle routes.

    NeighbourWoods can vary greatly in size and location, from forests in the countryside and on the outskirts of our villages, towns and cities, to woodlands located in our more built-up areas. The common theme is that they all provide an important opportunity for young and old to experience nature and the environment, to see and enjoy forests and to appreciate the rich variety of plants and wildlife that exist in these habitats.

    The Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, offers funding of up to 85% of eligible costs (exclusive of VAT). There are three separate elements as follows:
    • 'NeighbourWood Establishment' which funds new NeighbourWoods developed on open 'greenfield' sites;
    • 'NeighbourWood Enhancement' which funds the silvicultural enhancement of existing woodland already used as neighbourwood or proposed for development as neighbourwood; and
    • 'NeighbourWood Facilities' which funds the installation and upgrade of appropriate recreational facilities within an area submitted under NBR Establishment or NBR Enhancement. Typical facilities include entrances, car parking, a variety of looped footpaths, information signage and waymarkers, nature trails, and seats and picnic tables.
    The maximum available grant under each element - payable as a single instalment - is as follows:
    • NBR Establishment: €5,000 / ha (plus an additional fencing allowance, as under the Afforestation Scheme)
    • NBR Enhancement: €5,000 / ha
    • NBR Facilities: €3,800 / ha
    Individual applications can comprise a combination of NBR Establishment and NBR Enhancement subject to a limit of 12 ha in total, plus NBR Facilities subject to a limit of 12 ha.

    As with other aspects of the Forestry Programme launched earlier this year, the overall aim of the NeighbourWood Scheme is to create and develop woodlands - and thereby create a vibrant legacy to be used and enjoyed by this and future generations. Further information can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/grantsandpremiumschemes2015/

  • Link to Minister Tom Hayes statement to Seanad on Ash Dieback (29/4/15)

    Page 657 .........The situation, as it stands, is as follows: there have been a total of 149 confirmed findings of the disease, 59 in plantation forests and the remaining 90 in non-forest locations, such as horticultural nurseries, roadside plantings, garden centres, private gardens and rural environment protection scheme, REPS, and agri-environment options scheme, AEOS, plantings. A total of 113 cases were identified in 2012 and 2013, 30 cases were identified during 2014 and to date in 2015, there have been six new findings.



  • Revenue Guidelines for Forest Owners in relation to Capital Acquisition Tax

    It is accepted by the Revenue Commissioners that, for Capital Acquisition Tax (CAT) purposes, the growing of trees is farming agricultural property.

    Paragraph 3.4 of the Guide to Farming Taxation Measures in the Finance Act 2014 recognises that if farming involving the occupation of woodland on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits does not require 20 hours per week to be spent on such farming activities, Revenue will take this into consideration in deciding whether the relief is due and the position is that Revenue will not deny the agricultural relief in those circumstances.

    The emphasis of the revised agricultural relief provisions is to ensure that agricultural property is used productively. If the commercial growing of trees only requires a minimum number of hours to be worked per week by a beneficiary or lessee, the agricultural relief will still apply to the woodland in those circumstances.

  • Progression of new Forestry Act

    The new Forestry Act was signed into law by the President in late 2014.

    The next part of the legal process is the commencement of the various Sections in the Act. In advance of this commencement, regulations must be drafted to give effect to a number of the provisions of the Act including those dealing with the licensing of felling. These regulations must be signed by the Minister at the same time the Act is commenced. This work, which involves legal input, is now well advanced and the intention would be to have everything in place by early September 2015 for commencement.

  • New Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme launched by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

    Introduction
    The Forest Genetic Resources Reproductive Material: Seed Stand & Seed Orchard Scheme was launched by Minister Tom Hayes on the 6th of June 2015. The scheme, which is 100% state funded, will provide financial support for existing seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material and the establishment of both indoor and outdoor seed orchards. While the main focus of the Scheme is to increase the resilience, productivity and quality of Irish forests, this new initiative also addresses the potential for forestry to meet the environmental and social needs of society. To this end, the Scheme provides support aimed at the conservation and protection of Ireland's ancient oak woodlands by providing funding to increase acorn production from these forests. This material can then be used in the Native Woodland Scheme which is also supported under the Forestry Programme. Further details regarding the Scheme are available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's website (http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/).

    Scheme Outline
    The Scheme is wholly funded by the exchequer under State aid rules as outlined in the European Guidelines for State aid in the agriculture and forestry sector and in rural areas 2014-2020 (2014/C 204/01). The primary objective of this scheme is to:
    • increase the resilience, productivity and quality of Irish forests;
    • increase self sufficiency in tree seed production;
    • provide for in-situ and ex-situ conservation of forest genetic resources;
    • provide breeding populations of designated broadleaf species (e.g., birch, oak and sycamore).
    Only broadleaf seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material will be funded under the Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme, while the establishment of new seed orchards may include both conifer and broadleaf species. Public and private forest holders including forest nursery owners will be eligible for support.

    The scheme itself shall consist of the following elements;

    Element 1: Seed Stands
    Element 1 is aimed at improving the management and conservation of registered Broadleaf Seed Stands included on the National List of Basic Material so as to increase the frequency, quality and volume of commercial seed production and collection. Grant-aided seed stands must produce seed, as verified by the Department, at least once during the contract period, or evidence must be provided that due to climatic conditions seeding has not occurred at a level to justify collection. Element 1 also facilitates the management and conservation of ancient woodland oak stands registered in the category 'Source Identified' for the purpose of gene conservation, so as to increase the frequency, quality and volume of acorns produced and collected for biodiversity-focused planting elsewhere.

    Element 2: Seed Orchards
    Element 2 will support the establishment of new seed orchards, both clonal and seedling, both indoor and outdoor.

    Grant Rates
    Grant assistance will be in respect of costs necessarily incurred in the management of Seed Stands and in the establishment of Seed Orchards subject to the maximum limit laid down in the table below. Outdoor seed orchards are eligible for a premium towards the cost of maintenance of ?500/hectare each year for 7 years following establishment.



    Application procedure and further Information
    Applications for approval and all queries and documentation regarding the scheme should be directed to Mr. Brian Clifford, Forest Sector Development Division, Agriculture House 3W, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
    Tel: + 353 1 6072683 Email: brian.clifford@agriculture.gov.ie

    Work may only commence following written approval from the Forest Service. The measure shall be administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and shall operate throughout the State.

  • Government Plans to invest €482m in Forestry

    • €482m of new investment in forestry
    • 44,000ha of new forests, 700km of new forest roads
    • 20% higher premium payments, 5% higher afforestation grants, 14% higher road grants
    • New species with rotations of 10-15 years
    • More native trees
    The investment package announced by Government in December will lead to the establishment of almost 44,000 hectares of new forests and nearly 700km of new forests roads.
    Read more...

  • News on New Forestry Schemes

    Native Woodlands Scheme (Establishment)
    This scheme is open for applications and has a mainly environmental focus and is aimed at extending native woodland cover and associated biodiversity in Natura 2000, acid sensitive sites and riparian areas. Support under this scheme is provided for the planting of native broadleaves and the retention of species rich habitats such as fens and species rich grasslands. Close to nature forest management is encouraged under this scheme.

    Forestry for Fibre Scheme
    This scheme is now open for applications and provides an opportunity for land owners to plant trees for fuel or for supply to other end uses such as panel board manufacture. This scheme supports the growing of productive tree species to produce wood biomass yields in the region of 150-300 m3 /ha over 10-15yrs. Eligible species are: Italian Alder Hybrid Aspen Eucalyptus Poplar (preference to improved genetic material). Trees are planted at a minimum of 2000 plants per ha (A reduced grant rate is available for Aspen when planted at 1,400 trees per ha). Minimum area 0.1 ha. The scheme does not fund short rotation coppice or Christmas trees.

    Agro-Forestry Scheme
    This scheme is also open for applications and aimed at farmers who wish to plant forest but who also wish to use their land for grazing or silage. This provides farmers with an opportunity to become involved in forestry on a small scale to grow high quality hardwood while also maintaining their existing agricultural income stream. A stocking rate of 400-1000 trees per ha is required and aiming for final spacing of 160-250 trees, minimum plot size and width will be 0.5 ha and 20 m respectively. Suitable species are mainly Oak, Sycamore and Cherry (other species considered on application). Trees must be protected by tree shelters for 6-8 years, and replaced with plastic mesh after 6-8yrs. The grant rate is 80% of eligible costs up to certain maximum rates.

    The Woodland Improvement Scheme (Thinning and tending)
    The Woodland Improvement Scheme (thinning and tending) is now open to applicants and follows the same rules and specifications as the previous scheme (The ITGA notes that the ?20k individual limit no longer applies to this scheme). This scheme is aimed specifically at broadleaf forests where support is provided to improve the health and vitality of these forests by removing malformed, wolf or diseased trees, Thinning encourages growth of potential crop trees and by managing natural regeneration. These activities improve the visual amenity of the forest thereby enhancing the landscape. Forests which have been thinned can also play an important role in soil and water protection where healthier trees are better placed to perform these functions. Broadleaf forests can slow down surface water runoff in water catchments reducing sedimentation\eutrophication of nearby watercourses. These services are enhanced by ground vegetation that is encouraged to grow once the canopy is opened up leading to more light reaching the forest floor.

    The Forest Service is working on finalising a number of the new Forestry Schemes to be introduced under the New Forestry Programme. Some of these schemes include;

    The Environmental Enhancement element of the Woodland Improvement Scheme is expected to be launched later this year.

    Native Woodland Scheme (Conservation)
    The Forest Service are currently working on this Native Woodland Scheme (Conservation) and it is hoped that this scheme will open this summer with scheme details available at that time. This scheme aims to enhance existing native woodlands and establish new native forests and provide for the protection of endangered species such as the freshwater pearl mussel. The target is to establish 60 ha of NWS (Conservation) per annum and improve the conservation status of the freshwater pearl mussel in the eight priority catchments. Support for example would include converting conifer forests growing along riparian zones to native woodlands using close-to-nature forestry. Ground vegetation would be encouraged to grow, acting as a filter reducing sedimentation from within the catchment. This would also have the effect of stabilising vulnerable river banks and protecting the soil from erosion.

    For more information on the New Forestry Programme, see Department website:

  • 2015 Irish Forestry Awards

    The RDS was ahead of the game when it initiated the first Irish Forestry Awards in 1987. Almost thirty years on these awards remain the only awards in this area and are highly regarded throughout the forestry industry. With a prize fund of €10,000, the Irish Forestry Awards celebrate excellence in an increasingly vital component of rural Ireland's economy and facilitate learning from the successes of others.

    Mr Tom Kirley, RDS Committee of Agriculture Chairman, said "The RDS has a long history of working in forestry that dates back to 1740, but it is future that we are excited about. The 2015 Irish Forestry Awards, and the changes introduced, will help the RDS identify the very best foresters in the country who will act as an example for others to follow and showcase the vast potential that forestry offers rural Ireland."

    The three awards categories mean the competition is open to all and recognise those who are at the forefront of the economic, environmental and community development of forestry in Ireland.

    The Production Forestry Category is divided into two sections; Under 15 Hectares and Over 15 Hectares and is open to Farmers and landowners using sound silvicultural management on their farms. While the focus is on the management of the area for wood production, judges will also take into account diversity of species, particularly native trees such as Ash, Birch, Oak, Willow, etc., to ensure greater efficiency and quality in the development of the sector.

    The Multipurpose Forestry category is open to individuals and organisations who are expanding or developing existing or new forest habitats through natural and environmentally sensitive methods. Judges will take into account the planning and management of the area, ecological awareness, social benefit, silviculture methods, control of grazing animals and invasive species as well as sensitive felling and thinning.

    The Community Woodland Award is designed to encourage and reward projects involving community woodlands and forests which have been established and managed in a way which is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy. This Award is open to woodland owners or managers from the public and voluntary sectors.

    Everyone with woodlands is encouraged to enter the Awards as all woodlands, large or small, are of merit. Application forms are available on the RDS website: www.rds.ie/agriculture or via email from forestry@rds.ie. Closing date for entries is June 12, 2015. If you require any additional information please contact the RDS Agriculture Foundation Department directly on 01 240 7215.

  • Report highlights how productive woodlands can reduce flood risk and protect waterways

    PLANTING productive woodland in specific areas could reduce the risk of flooding, according to a study by Confor and Forest Research (UK) which highlights the role productive woodland can play in lessening the likelihood of floods - as well as offering significant potential improvements to the water environment and a range of additional economic and environmental benefits.

    The report notes that forests and woodland can reduce flooding in several ways:
    • The greater water use of trees reduces flood volumes
    • The higher infiltration rates of woodland soils reduces rapid surface run-off of water, reducing flood generation
    • The 'hydraulic roughness' of trees, shrubs and large woody debris acts as a drag on flood waters, slowing flows
    • Trees protect soil from erosion, decreasing the amount of sediment going into watercourses and reducing the need for dredging. It also highlights how productive woodland can deliver specific benefits, including:
    • Water use tends to be highest for productive conifer woodland
    • Drier soils under productive woodland may make them better to receive and store rainfall
    • In general, larger areas of planting offer greater water benefits and productive woodlands tend to be on a larger scale as they are more economical and attractive to landowners.
    • Reducing pollutants in the water Multiple additional benefits include driving investment and job creation in the forestry sector, reducing imports by securing domestic timber supplies and capturing carbon.
    The report says: "Society is increasingly threatened by flooding while the water environment remains seriously impacted by a range of human pressures. There is strong evidence to support woodland creation in appropriate locations to help manage these issues." It concludes: "There is a strong case for further investment in well-targeted woodland creation to help meet a wide range of environmental and social goals." (including the Floods Directive, Water Framework Directive, Biodiversity 2020, greenhouse gas reduction, climate change adaptation and rural economic growth).

    The Report published by published by Confor: promoting forestry and wood, and Forest Research, is available at: www.confor.org.uk

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  • Coillte agrees sale of 375 acre site at Newcastle Wood, Ballymahon to Center Parcs

    Center Parcs, a leader in the UK family short break market, has recently announced plans to develop a holiday village at Newcastle Wood, five kilometres from Ballymahon, County Longford.
    The 375 acre site is currently owned by Coillte and Center Parcs has signed an option agreement with the company.
    The new Center Parcs, which is expected to open to guests in 2019 (subject to receiving satisfactory planning permission), will create approximately 750 jobs during construction. Once open, the €200 million development will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and will employ up to 1,000 people in permanent jobs.
    Center Parcs estimates that, when operational, the new holiday village will add approximately €32 million to Irish GDP per annum.
    Speaking at the announcement of this exciting project, Mark Foley, Managing Director of Coillte Enterprise, said:
    "Coillte is delighted to have been able to play its part in facilitating this major inwards investment opportunity through the sale of forest land to Center Parcs. Coillte is particularly pleased that this opportunity will deliver quality jobs in this exciting and sustainable tourism initiative. Tourism has been identified as a key sector for growth in jobs and Coillte, as Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation, welcomes this major project."

Commercial Forestry Services Ltd., 17 Castle Street, Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland.
Tel: + 353 1 2350988 - Fax: + 353 1 2350416 - Email: donalwhelan@forests.ie