Land owners whose plantations were damaged by storm force winds that occurred between December 5, 2013 and February 12, 2014 will be eligible for financial aid, the Department of Agriculture has announced.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, today announced the opening of the Windblow Reconstitution Scheme, which affected landowners will be able to apply to until February 2017.

A maximum grant of €1,700 per hectare up to a total of 10ha will be made available under the scheme to those private forest owners meeting the eligibility criteria, the Department confirmed.

The frequency and ferocity of these storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, led to extensive damage on forest lands, affecting some 8,000ha overall.

“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 December 1, 1989 will be eligible to apply and those with broadleaves planted after the December 1, 1983 can apply.

The budget allocated to the scheme can provide funding in respect of a total of 2,000ha.

In the event of applications received exceeding that amount, the Department has said that 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.

“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 during the week beginning September 12, 2016. The closing date for receipt of applications will be February 24, 2017.