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Native Woodland Establishment

Focus is on maximizing biodiversity value (Grant and Premium Categories 9-10)

The Native Woodland Establishment Scheme (NWS Est.) supports the establishment of new native woodlands on 'green field' sites. Its focus is on native species, minimal site disturbance and long-term ‘close-to-nature’ management.

It may present opportunities for planting in various environmentally sensitive areas.

The Native Woodland Establishment Scheme provides opportunities to protect and expand Ireland’s native woodland resource and associated biodiversity and is a key biodiversity measure within Ireland’s national forest policy.

It also supports a wide range of other benefits and functions arising from native woodlands, relating to reversing wider habitat fragmentation, the protection and enhancement of water quality, landscape, cultural heritage, wood and non-wood products and services, the practice of traditional woodland management techniques, environmental education, and carbon sequestration. 

Grant aid

The First Grant is available to cover the costs associated with the planting of the new native woodland and is payable following planting. The balance is paid by way of a Second Grant four years after planting following successful establishment of the native woodland.

Grant rates are dependent on which native woodland establishment scenario is appropriate (see below).

Annual forest premiums are available to landowners related to the scenario chosen. This premium is payable for a period of 15 years in respect of Grant and Premium Categories 9 and 10.

The maximum grant and premium rates are detailed below. The afforestation grant is a fixed grant to cover the costs incurred in the establishment of a forest and paid exclusive of VAT. It is paid in two instalments as outlined below. An additional allowance for fencing (to the maximum rates detailed below) is payable with the First Grant instalment.

The NWS Establishment grant application is made by the forest owner in association with a forester. This forester must be listed on the List of Registered Foresters (PDF) as a NWS-trained forester. Valuable information on how to make a grant application, eligibility requirements, available options, etc. can be found here:

Grant Rates (€/ha)

Grant/Premium Category (GPC)1st Grant
2nd Grant
Additional fencing allocation (IS436)Alternative fencing allocation
(Non IS436)
Total Grant available
GPC 9 – Native Woodland Establishment (oak-birch-holly-hazel woodland) 4215 1405 600 450 6220
GPC 10 – Native Woodland Establishment (alder-oak woodland) 3960 1320 600 450 5880

Premium Rate (€/ha)

Grant/Premium Category (GPC)Annual premium <10ha
Annual premium >10ha
Premium duration (years)
GPC 9 – Native Woodland Establishment 665 680 15
GPC 10 – Native Woodland Establishment  665 680 15

Native Woodland Establishment Scenarios:

Under Native Woodland Establishment GPC9 & GPC10, the identification of the most appropriate native woodland type is made at pre-application stage, using the Native Woodland Scheme Framework (PDF).
The NWS-trained forester appraises the site in terms of its location, soil (*), main habitats and vegetation. The forester then matches it to one of five NW establishment scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Podzols (Oak-Birch-Holly Woodland)
  • Scenario 2: Brown Podzolics (Oak-Birch-Holly with Hazel Woodland)
  • Scenario 3: Brown Earths (Oak-Ash-Hazel Woodland)
  • Scenario 4: Gleys (Alder-Oak-Ash Woodland)
  • Scenario 5: Highly Modified Peat & Peaty Podzols (Pioneer Birch Woodland)

The framework identifies the main soil type, the associated woodland type (in brackets above) and the relevant species mix and planting pattern.

(* For information on carrying out a walk-over soil survey, see Annex 3 of the NWS Establishment Silvicultural Standards, PDF).

Important notes: 

  • Any scenario selected must reflect the location and soil and the main habitats and vegetation (as described in the NWS Framework). Mismatch will result in the applications being returned for adjustment and resubmission.
  • High biodiversity habitats that correspond to Annex I listed habitats (EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) are not eligible under NWS Establishment.
  • Downy birch forms part of several planting mixtures set out in the Framework. Only improved 'qualified' downy birch planting stock can be used.
  • Due to ash dieback disease, ash is excluded from the NWS Framework.

Relevant publications