The Department of Agriculture, Forest Service division has announced changes to the Afforestation Scheme that will take effect for anyone who wants to plant from the 1st of January 2015.

The afforestation grant and premium scheme provides a package to encourage the planting of forests by covering the cost of forestry establishment, plus the income foregone during the maturation of the timber crop.

Those who plant under the scheme can receive an increased premium of up to €227 per acre over a period of 15 years. This is an increase of €19 per acre over the existing premium that ran for 20 years. The premiums will be paid in a shorter timeframe that will allow farmers and landowners to receive income sooner.

According to Daragh Little, MD of FEL and Chairman of Irish Forestry and Forest products Association, “The changes to the owners premiums are very positive; the new scheme opens forestry to those who could not qualify in the past. Non-farmers, individuals leasing land and those who availed of the Early Retirement Scheme are now eligible for the forestry programme. It is estimated that the removal of these restrictions will allow thousands of acres of new land become available to forestry and help achieve Government annual planting targets.

Forestry provides a stable annual income for a period of 15 years, with income from timber harvesting starting soon after the end of the premiums provided commercial conifers are planted on the land. Revenue earned from premiums and timber sales is income tax-free subject to the income tax threshold.

For more information and advice on farm forestry please contact Forest Enterprises Ltd on 1800 719 399 or visit FEL are Ireland’s leading forestry company specialising in all aspects of forestry including planting, harvesting, management and investment. FEL Manage over 40,000 of acres of forestry in Ireland.