The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is reminding anyone planning on applying for grant aid for planting this winter, that the closing date for the Forest Expansion and Small Woodland Grant schemes is Wednesday, August 31.

The schemes are part of the ‘Forests for Our Future’ programme that aims to encourage and help landowners plant their own woodlands.

The available grants can support all types of sustainable woodland, with the Small Woodland Grant Scheme being designed as a simple online scheme for new native woodlands of 0.2ha and larger and the Forest Expansion Scheme supporting native woodland, mixed woodland or commercial conifer woodland that can best meet land owners business needs whilst contributing to a living, working, active landscape.

Successful applicants to the schemes will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premium payments for a 10-year period.

DAERA is reminding landowners who wish to plant this winter that all applications to the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by 3:00p.m on August 31.

All applications to the Small Woodland Grant Scheme must be made using the online system before 10:00p.m on August 31.

Commenting on the schemes, Northern Ireland Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots said:

“These schemes are designed to attract and support farmers and other landowners to plant new woodland to complement their land management activity and add to our valuable woodland assets.

“I am pleased that in the last year land owners planted 525ha of new woodland under forestry grant schemes support.

“This is an encouraging response on our journey to increase the level of afforestation needed to reach the targets set out in the challenging Forests for Our Future programme.

“The reopening of our forestry grant schemes will enable private land owners and public sector organisations to bring forward new woodland creation projects for the forthcoming planting season.”