Thinking of Forestry? Get the Facts on Planting Rules and Options

Find out what’s required when you are planting forestry and figure out your planting and management options.

Public consultation & site notices

There is a requirement for a site notice to be erected on sites proposed for afforestation projects.

The site notice must be maintained in position for a period of not less than five weeks from date of receipt of the licence application from the Forest Service. If the notice is removed or becomes illegible it must be replaced within that period. In addition, the afforestation licence applications are published on the Department’s website.

A period of 30 days is allowed for public consultation during which a submission or observation in relation to the licence application may be made in writing (by post or email) to Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford; email [email protected].

Minimum area

A conifer plantation must not be less than 1.0 hectares in area. A smaller area is acceptable if the plantation directly adjoins existing forest. A conifer plot must not be less than 0.2 hectares.

A broadleaf plantation must not be less than 0.1 hectare in area. A broadleaf plot must not be less than 0.1 hectare. An agro-forestry plot must not be less than 0.1 hectares.

Environmental setbacks

The following setbacks are required under the scheme to protect different environmental features and sensitivities:

Habitat and landscape setbacks may also be required depending on the site. Setback distance and design should be as appropriate.

Plantation rules

For the purposes of the scheme a plantation is a plot or number of plots on the same holding and contained in a single application, planted in a single season under a single contract number. To be considered eligible under the scheme the following rules apply:

  • The plantation must contain a minimum 15% of broadleaves. This can comprise broadleaves planted in plots of minimum width and/or additional broadleaves planted for landscape and environmental reasons.
  • Each plot must comply with one of the GPCs and their corresponding requirements.
    In plantations greater than 10 hectares, Areas of Biodiversity Enhancement (ABES) should comprise up to 15% of the forest area.

Planting options

It is important, whatever option you choose to plant, that your forest is managed to the highest standards to ensure that you optimise the financial return on your investment. Ensure that you have a written contract between you and your Registered Forester in place before any work begins. You can obtain a contract from or by contacting the Farm Forestry section.

Option 1: Organise the forest establishment

This is the most hands-on option and it is advisable that you take the time to get a good knowledge of forest establishment and management techniques. You are still required to employ a Registered Forester to help prepare and to submit your application to the Forest Service.

All sub-contractors hired, such as machine operators for mounding and drainage, must be fully tax compliant. When the work is completed, the same Registered Forester submits an application to the Forest Service for payment to you of the First Grant and the first forest premium payment. An inspection by the Forest Service may take place after four years and subject to successful establishment the Second Grant will be paid. You must be prepared to fund all costs until the grant has been paid by the Forest Service.

Option 2: Hire a Registered Forester to establish forest

You employ a Registered Forester to submit your application to the Forest Service. Only when written approval has been received can the work start. The Registered Forester will coordinate some or all of the work, as s/he will have knowledge of subcontractors and machine operators and can source trees and other materials. Most Registered Foresters establish and maintain plantations under a 4-year contract and usually request that the grants are mandated to them.

However, some of the work can be carried out by you, as agreed with your Registered Forester in the written contract. You must be prepared to fund all costs until the grant has been paid by the Forest Service, unless there is an agreement to mandate the grant to the Registered Forester. The works and the costs involved should be specified in a written contract.

Replanting obligation

The land is subject to a replanting obligation for all grant and premium categories and must remain under forestry.

Read more in the IFA Farm Forestry Fact Sheet, which also contains information on grants and premium payments.

You can contact the IFA Farm Foresty Section on 01-4260343 or [email protected]

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