Tree Planting Grants

The Process

1. Contact
Landowners contact Carolyn for a consultation which includes a background check on the land.

2: Consultation
Carolyn meets with the Landowner to discuss options and elgibility of the grants.

3: Application
Carolyn compiles the application on behalf of Landowners which includes a five year management plan and full costings

4: Submission
The application is submitted before August 31st 2023 deadline – there is only ONE deadline this year!

5: Grant Announcement
Applicants find out whether they have been successful usually by December 2023

6: Tree Planting
From December 2023 to end of May 2024 the planting of the woodlands will take place and claims submitted

FES or SWGS – which one to choose?

This really depends on what your land is like and how much woodland you would like to plant.

If you are only planting small areas in the region of 3 or 4 ha then you are maybe safer with the SWGS - it depends on how highly your woodland will score.

If you are planting 4-5 ha plus, it is worth looking at the FES as it is more comprehensive grant and will help you establish and maintain your woodland for longer.

As with both grants, you will need to pay for your woodland before you reclaim the grant.  The FES will be a more expensive option as it usually has a higher density of trees than the SWGS, however the repayment time is much quicker.

Repayment time for the FES is usually approx. 10-12 weeks, repayment time for the SWGS can be 8-10 months (as it is claimed on your SAF form).

VAT – if you are not vat registered, you can claim the cost of the vat as part of the FES project.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with the SWGS

Annual Income – the FES is paid depending on its classification and also its condition – the SWGS is paid as a set rate.  If your land is LL and improved grassland (over 25% rye grass and clover) then your annual income will be the higher rate of £425 per ha (as opposed to £350 per ha in the SWGS). However, DA is paid at £380 per ha and SDA is paid at £280 per ha therefore the SWGS may be a better option for you.

Will the SWGS grant cover my cost?

The last 2 seasons we have tried to make the SWGS fit the work however with the rising costs of trees, guards, canes, labour and fuel in the past 12 months, the serious answer is probably not.  We are working with suppliers to get the best prices possible and we will cost each site as to its requirements but I expect the SWGS grant will cover in the region of 80% of the costs.

Will I get 100% grant from the FES?

The FES is scored against a certain criteria and also costed as part of the bid to ascertain its value for money.  Landowner contribution is a key factor here and the more you can contribute towards your project, the more successful your project will be. We can advise on this once the scheme is costed but asking for 100% if never a good idea!

Most woodlands in Northern Ireland are created with the support of the DAERA Forest Service funding and this year we have two grants to chose from.

To help you, here is a brief run down of each one:

For both schemes you must have a DAERA Business ID number.  If you don’t, go to DAERA online services and download form FB1. Your local DAERA office will be able to help you.

Forest Expansion Scheme (FES)
  • Competitive Bid - application to be submitted to 31st August Deadline
  • Minimum area 3 ha in one block  - no upper limit
  • Up to 100% grant funding including establishment and maintenance
  • Annual income for 10 years on agricultural land
  • In addition to Single farm payments if eligible
  • Up to 20% open space allowed
  • Fencing paid at £6 per metre
  • Application is scored against certain criteria and assessed by a panel in Autumn 2022 for value for money
Small Woodland Grant Scheme (SWGS)
  • On line application via Gov Gateway
  • Minimum area 0.2 ha - no upper limit
  • Set rate of £2340 per ha to establish the woodland paid in year 1
  • Set rate of £585 per ha to maintain the woodland paid in year 5
  • Native woodlands only
  • Fencing paid at £6 per metre
  • Must have Government Gateway Access Codes
  • Annual income of set rate £350 per ha for 10 years
  • In addition to Single Farm Payments if eligible

If you are unsure which scheme is right for you, contact Carolyn at

SWGS – How it Works

Submitted your SWGS application on-line – what now?

The Forest Service will be processing all SWGS applications over September and October so check your emails for a Letter of Offer.  Once you get this, check it is what you applied for and Accept the offer in your Government Gateway portal.  You only have 14 days to accept this so don’t miss it otherwise it will expire.

Important Timescales
  • SWGS Offer letters should be issued by email September to November 2023
  • 14 days only to Accept the Offer Letter – once accepted then work can start – Offers are accepted on your Gov Gateway Portal.
  • Planting season starts November / December when bare root trees become available
  • All work to be completed and paid for by 15th May 2024
  • Claim your SWGS on the SAF form

You have the option for IndiWoods to plant your land for you or you can do this yourself.

What are carbon credits and how do I get them?

IndiWoods can register your project for carbon credits, which are available to those who are planting their woodlands long term and who consider carbon credits as part of their woodland planting before it is planted.

As you will know, trees store carbon during their lifetime and omit oxygen- hence the need for more trees to reduce our carbon footprint.

The woodland carbon code is a government backed incentive to plant more trees and store more carbon.  The amount of carbon stored is then equated into tonnes of carbon (depending on your species, soils, elevation, yield class predicted growth etc) and then calculated to work out how much carbon the woodland is predicted to store during its lifetime.  This amount of carbon (in tonnes) can then be sold to people looking to buy carbon credits to reduce their carbon footprint (businesses etc) and the cost of carbon is rising.  Although we don’t have a crystal ball, carbon is definitely the hot potato at the moment and it is worth registering your project.  It is complicated and there are costs involved in registering, validating and regular woodland inspections, however the current rate for carbon is approx. £15-20 per tonne and an average native woodland will store approx. 390 tonnes of carbon so its definitely worth looking into.

IndiWoods is a registered Project Developer with the Woodland Carbon Code and can register your project for you.

IndiWoods is a registered Project Developer with the Woodland Carbon Code and can register your project for you.

We do all of the hard work for our Landowners. It’s a simple Six Step Process for the Forest Expansion Scheme.