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Woodland Environmental Fund

Native woodlands

Native woodlands are an integral part of Ireland’s natural heritage, history and culture, and are unique in terms of their biodiversity.

They are home to a host of specialised woodland animals and plants, including red squirrel, pine marten, great spotted woodpecker, narrow-leaved helleborine and wood millet, to name but a few.

They provide numerous ecosystem services, including the protection and enhancement of water quality, wider habitat linkage, landscape enhancement, opportunities for outdoor recreation and interpretation, and carbon capture.

Woodland Environmental Fund

The Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) provides an access point for individual businesses to help expand Ireland’s native woodland resource, by providing additional incentives to encourage landowners to plant new native woodlands that they may not have otherwise planted, had that additional support not been provided. This relationship benefits the State by contributing to national targets regarding native woodland afforestation.

It enhances the reputation of the participating business, as that business is associated with the creation of a tangible environmental asset that will become a permanent feature of the landscape. These forests will benefit society on an ongoing basis through the ‘delivery’ of the important ecosystem services set out above.

Outline of the WEF

The WEF will operate as follows:

  1. Farmers and other landowners interested in planting native woodlands may opt into the WEF as part of their standard application under DAFM’s existing Native Woodland Establishment Scheme.
  2. DAFM undertakes its standard evaluation procedure (which assesses the environmental and silvicultural suitability of the proposal) and, if appropriate, issues approval for the planting of native woodland.
  3. The Registered Forester (or Forestry Company) working on behalf of the landowner, provides a participating Natural Capital Facilitator (NCF) with details of the proposed woodland.
  4. That NCF then connects with current or future business clients that wish to contribute to the fund, and presents them with a list of native woodlands with planting approval.
  5. Businesses can engage NCFs to describe or measure in a scientifically verifiable manner, the environmental benefits that are likely to be generated by the new native woodland. These could include, for example, an improvement in water quality in local rivers and streams, the positive impact the woodland will have on biodiversity in the area, or the amount of carbon that will be captured as the woodland develops.
  6. An individual business can then decide to support a particular project that best fits its requirements regarding size, location, the types of environmental benefits that are most relevant to it, etc.

While the business will have no ownership rights in relation to the native woodland being established or to any ecosystem service (including carbon)
that the woodland may provide, this information can be used by it in a variety of ways. For example, this information can be used to demonstrate
the commitment of the business to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and also to increase awareness amongst its employees, customers
and trading partners of the benefits of native woodlands to society.

Further information