I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 to 180, inclusive, together.
Under the current Forestry Programme 2014 -2020, the planting of native woodlands is supported through a grant of €6,200 per hectare and 15 year premiums of €680 per hectare. Interest in planting has increased year-on-year since the commencement of the programme in 2015.
In order to further encourage the planting of native woodlands, my Department has launched a Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) initiative. This provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners to support the national effort to plant additional native trees. The WEF involves an additional once off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare paid by the business to the landowner. There has been a positive reaction from the business community to this scheme, with An Post and Accenture already signed up and other businesses submitting formal expressions of interest in participating in the scheme. My colleague Minister Doyle, will be addressing a gathering of interested businesses on 28 November 2019 to further promote the planting of native woodland under the WEF.
Furthermore, last month, my colleague Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I announced that Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna are collaborating on a new project which will see bogs that are no longer being used for peat production, transformed into rich native woodlands.
This initiative will see approximately 3 million native trees being established, mainly through the direct seeding method, across 1,500 hectares of Bord na Móna land over the next 3 years. The focus will be on growing a mix of native Irish trees such as Downy Birch, Scots Pine, Alder and other broadleaves (Hazel and Holly etc.). The Bord na Móna lands identified for the project are in counties Offaly, Laois, Westmeath and Tipperary. Teams from Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna will work together to provide the management, forestry, nursery and technical expertise to establish and maintain the woodlands.
A target of 450 hectares of native woodland is set for each year under the current Forestry Progamme 2014 -2020. This would equate to an estimated 1,485,000 trees. Targets for 2021 and 2022 will be set under the new Forestry Programme.
In terms of the number of trees planted in each of the years 2007 to 2018, an estimate is shown in the table at the link, using the average figure of 3,300 stems per hectare for native woodlands. The figures from 2015 onwards are based on native woodland establishment under GPCs 9 and 10 under the current National Forestry Programme. There are also native and broadleaf trees planed as part of a mixed plantation.
Native Woodland Trees