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Minister Wallace announces new Forest Environment Protection Scheme

Ms Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, has announced details of a new Forest Environment Protection Scheme (FEPS) to encourage the establishment of high nature value forestry on farms which participate in REPS. The new scheme is being brought in under the Rural Development Plan 2007-2013, which was presented to Brussels in December, and will operate on a pilot basis during 2007.

An additional premium of up to €200 per hectare for five years will be available to farmers in REPS who join FEPS and plant part of their land in accordance with the provisions for forestry laid down in the new scheme. Farmers planting under FEPS will have to adhere to enhanced environmental objectives, some of which will be mandatory while others will be drawn from a menu of options. These will concentrate on biodiversity, habitats, species mix, environmental impact and visual considerations, setting standards which go beyond the already substantial commitments applying under the regular Afforestation Scheme.

The additional payments under FEPS will replace the premium payable under REPS in respect of land to be afforested. The full suite of existing forestry supports will also apply, including 100% grants for planting and a 20-year premium. The details of the new scheme and applications forms are being finalised at present and will be available shortly.

"Properly planned forestry is one of the most environmentally friendly end-uses to which we can put our land," Minister Wallace said, pointing out that forestry in Ireland already delivers a significant range of environmental goods in addition to its timber output. She went on to suggest that the standard Afforestation Scheme, with the increased grants and premiums announced before Christmas, must remain the principal driver for forestry in Ireland, and particularly for those interested in achieving the maximum economic return. "FEPS will add a further dimension to the planting programme, opening up new land to forestry and highlighting the environmental benefits of forestry,? Minister Wallace said. ?With the increasing evidence of climate change before us, with the need to find alternative fuels, with the demand for cleaner air and a better environment, it is more important than ever that we plant more forests."

Download FEPS Scheme Forms

9 January, 2007

Date Released: 09 January 2007