New Native Woodland Conservation Scheme Launched

Feb 19, 2024 | Climate Change

It is common knowledge that Ireland’s forest cover is among the lowest of any EU country. Only 11%, of Irelands land is covered in forest which compares poorly to the European average of 33.5%. But an even more sobering fact is that just under 2% or 20.000 hectares of this forested area is actual native woodland, and only occurs in tiny fragments dotted across the landscape. Native woodlands support a wide variety of ecosystem functions and services, such as; protecting and improving biodiversity, soil and water quality, while mitigating the challenges of climate change.

A new Native Woodland Conservation (NWC) scheme has been launched to support the restoration, conservation and enhancement of existing native woodlands. This scheme has been developed and implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Heritage Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and other native woodland stakeholders.

The NWC scheme will support what is termed “close to nature” forest management that brings benefits for nature, water quality and climate. It will also create opportunities for implementing traditional forms of woodland management while providing local amenities and opportunities for woodland and environmental education.

In recognition of the fact that many of Ireland’s native woodlands are currently under-managed, the NWC Scheme will provide support to woodland owners to tackle under-management, and promote the sustainability of forest and woodland habitats through appropriate restoration measures. These restoration measures will be identified following a careful assessment by ecologists and registered foresters of a woodland and its needs.

The grants will be available at the rate of €6,000 per hectare for restoration and enhancement works, with an increased payment for Ecosystems Services of €500 per hectare every year for 7 years.

Further information and details on how to apply for the Native Woodland Conservation scheme can be found here.

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