The current Forestry Programme supports opportunities for habitat linkage by providing grants and premiums for afforestation, including native woodland extablishment and conservation schemes. This includes the establishment of 12 different forest types including native woodlands that can be planted in areas as small as 0.1ha. This programme is due to end in 2020 but delays in finalising the new CAP regulations means that this will extend into 2021.
A new Forestry Programme will be required to cover the period 2022 – 2028. This will set out the different measures that the Department will support during the next period and will most likely include a redesigned afforestation scheme and measures specifically aimed at supporting biodiversity. A public consultation process will be carried out to help shape this new programme and I would recommend that you submit any proposals on 'Stepping Stone Forests' at this time. I expect that a call for submissions will be made in the coming months.