Forest Industries Ireland (FII) has called on Minister of State Pippa Hackett to significantly increase the financial incentives for forestry.

The group said that the financial returns have not been enough to attract large numbers of farmers and landowners into afforestation over the past ten years.

The area of land planted with trees fell to 2,000ha last year, which FII said is the lowest rate in decades.

It said that this underlines the need for a “step-change” in the incentives provided under the Forestry Programme 2023- 2027.

Forestry incentives

FII called on Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan and his Green Party colleague, Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett to impress on the Cabinet the need to increase the forestry budget.

FII said that increases of 10-20% in grants and premiums paid to farmers will not be sufficient enough.

It called for the licensing and regulatory system to be urgently reformed as it “continues to act as a brake on afforestation”.

FII added that the productive area of conifer forests must be maximised, along with rewarding landowners who develop native woodlands.

The implementation and design of new forestry schemes needs to deliver productive and profitable forests for landowners, it stated.

The group outlined that the government should accelerate the development of payments for ecosystem services and voluntary carbon markets.


Mark McAuley, director of FII, said that increasing annual afforestation to 8,000ha or more poses a financial and political challenge for the government.

However, he said that it is a target that must be met if the government’s own carbon reduction goals are to be met.

“The exchequer should be amenable to a major budget increase for forestry given the climate imperative and the long-term financial costs associated with inaction on carbon.

“The European Commission is also firmly in favour of increased tree planting in Ireland and other Member States,” he said.

“What is needed now is a recognition of the scale of the increases that are required and a determination to create a suite of forestry incentives that has the real ability to increase afforestation to 8,000+ ha per annum,” the FII director continued.

“There is conclusive evidence to demonstrate that the current incentives for forestry are not sufficient.

“If the minister [Pippa Hackett] and this government are not willing to invest heavily in incentivising land use change into forestry (and fix the regulatory system), then they cannot stand over their commitment to climate change,” McAuley concluded.