I'm pleased to announce I have launched the new Native Woodland Conservation (NWC) scheme to support the restoration, conservation and enhancement of existing native woodlands.
The scheme has been developed and implemented in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Heritage Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and other native woodland stakeholders.
Ireland’s native woodlands are a precious resource. Our existing native woodlands support a wide variety of ecosystem functions and services. They protect and enhance our biodiversity, soil and water quality, while mitigating the challenges that we face through climate change. I am delighted that we can reward and support native woodland owners so that they can manage and conserve these forests.
Many of Ireland’s native woodlands have been under-managed. The NWC Scheme provides support to woodland owners to tackle such under-management, and to promote the sustainability of forest and woodland habitats through appropriate restoration measures, which will be identified following a careful assessment of the woodland and its needs by an ecologist and a registered forester.
The NWC scheme supports “close to nature” forest management that brings benefits for nature, water quality and climate. It creates opportunities for implementing traditional forms of woodland management that form part of our countryside heritage, as well as for the provision of local amenities and opportunities for woodland and environmental education.
Through the new Forestry Programme 2023-2027, the Native Woodland Conservation scheme will support forest owners to deliver these multiple benefits. I have introduced increased grants of €6,000 per hectare for restoration and enhancement works, along with an increased payment for Ecosystems Services of €500 per hectare every year for 7 years.
Those forest owners who applied for the Native Woodland scheme under the previous Forestry Programme 2014 -2020, and who have not yet received approval will receive correspondence advising them of their options in the coming week, along with those with existing approvals under the previous scheme who have not commenced work.
Full details on how to apply, along with grant and Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) premium rates, are available here.