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Native Tree Area Scheme

The Native Tree Area (NTA) Scheme supports the creation of small native forests on farmed land. The scheme is open to both farmers and non-farmers. Two scenarios can be considered:

  • NTA 1 - Creation of small native forests
    Supports the establishment of new native forests on farmed land.
  • NTA 2 - Creation of small native forests for water protection 
    Supports the establishment of new native forests alongside streams, rivers and lakes protecting and enhancing water quality and aquatic habitats. Through the creation of such corridors, existing native forests can be reconnected thereby addressing the negative effects of fragmentation. 

This scheme will not require an afforestation licence, subject to the terms and conditions of the NTA scheme. Direct entry to the Scheme will apply, using the same approach that is employed with Agri-Environmental Schemes. 

All forests established under this Scheme are protected by the Forestry Act 2014, which controls the felling of trees. Under this Act, it is illegal to cut down any tree unless a Felling Licence has been obtained.

Area and width requirements


The tree planting area must be between 0.1 and 1.0 hectare. The area may consist of multiple smaller blocks (such as the corners of fields) provided these smaller blocks are not less than 0.1 hectare.
All parcels must be 20 metres or greater in width, measured tree-to-tree. In certain situations, 10% of a proposed area can be less than 20 metres in width to a minimum of 10m in width.


The tree planting area must be between 0.1 and 1.0 hectare.
Maximum width is 20 metres, measured tree-to-tree (or 25 metres when open spaces are included).

NTA 1 and NTA 2 can be combined, where appropriate, per farm holding up to the maximum limits allowed.

Areas of Biodiversity Enhancement 

In addition, open spaces such as aquatic buffer zones are also eligible for inclusion. These features are referred to as Areas of Biodiversity Enhancement (ABEs). The maximum allowable ABE area is 15%. Therefore, the maximum payment area is set at 1.15 ha for both the NTA 1 and NTA 2.

Native Tree Area Scenarios

The NTA Scenarios (see table below) identify the most appropriate forest type for a particular locality. Each site is assessed in relation to its topographical location, soil, main habitats and vegetation.

All tree species proposed for planting must be native to the island of Ireland, representative of the native forest type (or types) for that locality and acceptable to the DAFM.

Scenario Planting mixture 

Scenario 1

Dry Mineral Soil
(i.e. podzols, brown podzols and brown earths)

  • 30% oak, to be planted in predominantly pure groups
  • 30% birch, scattered intimately throughout with remainder planted in pure groups
  • 25% Scots pine planted in small pure groups away from watercourses adjoining or crossing the plot
  • 15% other native species

(Changes +/– 25% for each species will be accepted. A maximum of 25% Scots pine may be planted)

Scenario 2

Wet Mineral Soil (i.e. gleys)

  • 50% alder, to be planted in pure groups (30-40 trees)
  • 30% birch, to be planted in pure groups (30-40 trees)
  • 15% oak, to be planted in small pure groups, focusing on drier areas
  • 5% other native species 

(Changes +/– 25% for each species will be accepted).

Woodland design requirements

The focus is on retaining natural site conditions with minimum site disturbance facilitating the emergence of a native forest that would occur naturally on the site.

  • A minimum tree planting spacing of 3 x 3 metres is required, giving a planting density of 1,100 trees per hectare. Where the installation of deer shelters is necessary a minimum tree spacing of 4 x 4 metres is required.
  • Ground preparation is limited to inverted (or scrap) mounding, shallow ripping, pit planting and auger planting. The creation of new drainage channels is not permitted.
  • Fertiliser application is not permitted.
  • The control of competing vegetation is critical for the establishment and growth of young trees. Inadequate vegetation management will result in mortality, loss of growth and vigour and the need for further inputs during the establishment process.
  • Sites must be fully protected from browsing animals. Similar fencing allowances apply for the NTA scheme including deer tree shelters although deer fencing is not supported.
  • Invasive species such as rhododendron and cherry laurel must be controlled and removed from the site. Heavily infested sites or sites within a heavily infested locality are not suitable for inclusion in the Native Tree Area Scheme. 

Afforestation Grant


Native Tree Area Scheme

First Grant

Second Grant

Total Grant 

Annual Premium

Number of Premiums


Small native forests

€5,058 €1,686 €6,744 €2,206 10 


Small native forests for water protection

€5,058 €1,686 €6,744 €2,284 10
  • Deer Tree Shelter Grant: Up to €1,600/ha
  • Fencing Grant: see below

Fencing Grant

Table: IS 436 fencing rates


Fence Type

Rate per metre (€/m)

Maximum allocation per hectare (€/ha)

NTA 1 Stock €5.50/m  €1,320/ha 
Stock/Sheep €7.00/m  €1,680/ha 
Stock/Rabbit €7.00/m  €1,680/ha
NTA 2 Stock €5.50/m  €2,200/ha
Stock/Sheep €7.00/m  €2,800/ha
Stock/Rabbit €7.00/m  €2,800/ha


Table: Non-IS 436 fencing rates 


Fence Type

Rate per metre (€/m)

Maximum allocation per hectare (€/ha)

NTA 1 Stock €4.50/m  €810/ha 
Stock/Sheep €5.00/m  €900/ha 
Stock/Rabbit €6.50/m  €1,170/ha
NTA 2 Stock €4.50/m  €1,350/ha
Stock/Sheep €5.00/m  €1,500/ha
Stock/Rabbit €6.50/m  €1,950/ha

Relevant publication

Further information