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Continuous Cover Forestry

This scheme supports the production of commercial timber while retaining forest cover at all times.

Conifers and broadleaves managed as mixtures under CCFContinuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha (or more than two tree heights wide) without the retention of some mature trees. Natural regeneration is encouraged but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required.

Scheme details

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To enhance environmental benefits of existing coniferous forests by opening up the canopy and creating new habitats for wildlife
  • To create an uneven canopy structure with the aim of producing high quality, high value logs
  • To promote a more suitable management option in sensitive sites
  • To develop skills in continuous cover forestry across the forestry sector to facilitate adoption

Applications will be considered for silvicultural systems where restructuring of the forest is required to provide conditions for an uneven-aged and permanent forest. Production should concentrate on growing high quality logs, usually produced from very large trees. The forest must be managed to promote natural regeneration and to positively diversify species composition.

These objectives will be achieved by implementing the following measures:

  • Improvement felling of poorer quality trees
  • Felling of additional trees to release potential frame trees
  • Pruning to improve stem quality
  • Thinning or re-spacing to promote growth
  • Management and re-spacing of natural regeneration

Scheme requirements

Free draining mineral soils are best suited to CCF. Peats, deep peats, wet peats, waterlogged sites and gleys are to be avoided. Sites not capable of growing Sitka spruce to Yield Class 14 are not eligible.

Sites subject to severe and persistent threats (e.g. rhododendron, deer,…) that could undermine the long-term sustainability of the project must include a comprehensive action plan as part of the Transformation Management Plan that addresses these issues.

Elevations above 300 metres should be avoided as the risk of windblow increases significantly.

Further details can be found in the scheme document below.

Financial support

The scheme is limited to 30 projects (maximum 10 hectares in size) up until the end of the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. Priority may be given to suitable sites of environmental or landscape significance on a first come first served basis.

The scheme will comprise of a CCF Transformation Management Plan that will run for a period of 12 years with three instalments of €750 occurring at intervals throughout the 12-year period.

The first instalment will be at year 1 with the final payment issuing within 12 years from the date of completion of works relating to the first intervention. The middle payment can be paid at any stage during the intervening period.  

 InterventionFixed grant – €/ha *
 First intervention  €750
 Second intervention  €750
 Third intervention  €750

  * per treated hectare

For full scheme details, see relevant publication below.

Relevant publication: