EFS funding available for tree planting

Brian Malcomson, MICFor, Scottish Woodlands Ltd
Brian Malcomson, MICFor, Scottish Woodlands Ltd

By now all applicants that have applied to the first tranche of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Wider will have received their approval letters along with a woodland creation plan, writes Brian Malcomson.

Early indications suggest that there has been a good uptake for this scheme, which we hope will continue when the second tranche re-opens in early 2018.

Due to an increased competition for land use the rate and extent of woodland planting for the last 20 years has fallen below targets. The new EFS is welcome as it will help to redress this issue. During this period, the average area of woodland creation was below 5ha, which is one reason to suggest it will be a popular scheme.

The aim of the EFS is to assist landowners to make environmental improvements to their farming enterprise. This means that only native trees may be planted as this will contribute to what little native woodland cover already exists in Northern Ireland.

However, many applicants are still not aware that if all capital works (for example planting native trees and shrubs and installing tree guards and canes as necessary) are completed by 31st December 2017 in the first year of the EFS agreement then they will be eligible for an 18-month payment of £2,883.00 per hectare in the Year 1 period from 1st July 2017 to 31st December 2018. This represents an increase of nearly 10% in the Year 1 payment compared to the standard 12-month payment of £2,625.00 per hectare. This 18-month payment is claimed on the 2018 Single Application Form (SAF).

The remaining payments over the subsequent four years from years two-five remain at £516.00 per hectare per year.

Applicants can continue to claim the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) on areas established with woodland.

Therefore, to avail of this increased payment, applicants need to start thinking about planting their blocks from late October to leave time to complete all works before 31st December 2017.

If you would like further information or a quotation for tree planting please contact Brian Malcomson on 028 2763 8026 or brian.malcomson@scottishwoodlands.co.uk.