A new Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) to boost the creation of more native trees has been announced. The fund will financially reward land owners who plant native trees, such as oak, alder and birch.
Under the new initiative the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will offer an additional top up of €1,000 per hectare as a once-off payment for farmers and other private landowners. The plan is to encourage the planting of an additional three million between now and 2020.
Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said “WEF is an ideal ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) project, as the restoration of Ireland’s once-vast forests of oak, birch and alder invokes a shared emotion amongst many of its citizens. These forests will become a long-lasting feature of the landscape, providing environmental benefits on an ongoing basis and adding colour and diversity to an area that can be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike.”
The afforestation scheme already covers the cost of establishing native woodlands and also pays an annual premium to the landowner of up to €680 per hectare payable each year for 15 years.
Paul Harris, Sustainable Nation Ireland says “This is a timely and innovative development coming at a time when there is an increasing understanding that corporates have to take responsibility for their environmental impact. This fund enables companies to meet those responsibilities in a way that is positive for Ireland in many ways.”
The WEF is being run on a pilot basis until the end of the current National Forestry Programme 2014-2020 and the outcome of this pilot phase will be used to inform the design of the next programme.