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Environment Minister Edwin Poots has announced the next stage of the Forests for our Future programme by launching the 2020/21 grant scheme that aims to encourage and help landowners plant their own woodland. The aim is to plant  850 hectares of all types of woodland, including new native, other broadleaf and predominantly coniferous woodland.

Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premia for a 10-year period.

Minister Poots said: “Earlier this year, I launched the Forests For Our Future programme, where I pledged to plant 18 million trees by 2030 and create 9,000 hectares of new woodland to help our environment and economy.

“In order to help us achieve this ambitious target, my Department has consulted industry and other stakeholders and made a number of changes to the Forest Expansion Grant Scheme which I am now re-opening. The revised scheme will be opened earlier than previously and includes a reduction of the minimum application area to three hectares which will help more landowners to plant some of their land. To date, the Department has committed £6.4 million of grant aid to support 115 landowners to plant just over 850 hectares of all types of woodland, including new native, other broadleaf and predominantly coniferous woodland.

“Our woodlands are a hugely valuable natural resource and will benefit individuals and society alike by contributing to a healthy, quality environment, help to mitigate climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and improve the landscape and biodiversity. They also help our economy to thrive - the forestry sector at present generates about £60 million per annum from timber production activity, sustaining approximately 1,000 rural jobs. These woodlands can also provide spaces for people to improve their health and well-being through their enjoyment of this quality, natural resource.”

Plans for planting must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and the scheme will support applications on a best value basis.

Applications for the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by noon on Friday 28 August 2020 for the 2020/21 planting season.

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