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Minister Creed Announces Opening of Windblow Reconstitution Scheme

Michael Creed, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, announced today the opening of a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme, the purpose of which is to provide financial aid to land owners whose plantations were damaged by storm force winds that occurred between 5th December 2013 and 12th February 2014, with the most severe windstorm, named ‘Storm Darwin’, on 12th February 2014. The frequency and ferocity of these storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, led to extensive damage on forest lands, affecting some 8,000 hectares overall

Announcing the Scheme, Minister Creed said “Many private forest owners suffered significant financial loss both in terms of the value of timber lost and the cost in re-establishing the sites affected. Negotiations in relation to a scheme to assist in the reconstitution of the forests affected had been ongoing for some time and I am  particularly pleased that my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is now in a position to make a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme available to those forest owners. The State will make a financial contribution towards the cost of replanting these sites as a once off measure for this specific weather event”.

The Minister advised those affected that “Forest owners of conifer forests planted after the 1st December 1989 will be eligible to apply and those with broadleaves planted after the 1st December 1983 can apply”. A maximum grant of €1,700 per hectare up to a total of 10 hectares will be made available under the Scheme to those private forest owners meeting the eligibility criteria. The budget allocated to the Scheme can provide funding in respect of a total of 2,000 hectares. In the event of applications received exceeding that amount, a selection process will be undertaken after the closing date for receipt of applications in an effort to ensure that funding is allocated on an equitable basis to favour those forests which suffered the greatest loss.

The Minister took the opportunity to remind forest owners of the importance of insuring their forests in order to protect their valuable resource. He added that, “while insurance is not compulsory, the financial interest of the forest owner is best served though a comprehensive insurance package and I encourage forest owners to safeguard their investment in their forests”.   

Scheme details along with the application form will be available from the Department’s website at during the week beginning 12th September 2016. The closing date for receipt of applications will be 24th February 2017.

Note to the editor

Storm force winds occurred on 12 separate days between the 5th December 2013 and the 12th February 2014. The most severe windstorm, named ‘Storm Darwin’, occurred on the 12th February 2014. The frequency and ferocity of these storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, led to extensive damage on private and state owned forest lands. Using RapidEye satellite imagery, the damage is estimated to be in the order of 8,000 hectares (ha) of which 75% is owned by Coillte Teoranta. This equates to approximately 2 million cubic metres (m3) of timber which is 65% of the total volume of roundwood harvested in 2014 (3.1m m3).

Windblow damage is not a new phenomenon to Irish forestry albeit on a much smaller scale than that experienced during the winter of 2013/14. The risk of windblow is influenced by soil type, height of the trees and altitude. Most forests are thinned to provide early income to forest owners and to redistribute the growth potential of the site to fewer, better quality trees. Thinning can, however, increase the likelihood of windblow. On certain more vulnerable soil types such as those which are located in exposed high altitude sites, thinning may increase the risk of windblow by up to 80%. It is accepted practice in some locations not to thin forests at all. Plantations are at risk of becoming unstable after thinning, as removing some of the crop removes the wind firm edge of the forest, making the plantation more vulnerable to being blown over.

While the extent of the damage caused by the storms of 2013/14 is estimated to be less than 1% nationally, the damage was extensive at a local level. The south of the country and parts of the midlands in particular experienced significant damage where substantial quantities of timber were blown over and entire forests in some cases were completely levelled. 

The level of support under the Reconstitution scheme for Windblow depends on whether the forest was insured for the costs of reconstitution or uninsured for the costs of reconstitution at the time of “the storm”. For sites that were not insured for the costs of reconstitution, a maximum grant of €1,700/ha will be available for both conifers and broadleaves. The maximum grant payable for sites that were insured for the costs of reconstitution will be limited to the excess applying to the policy or less where over compensation may occur.

To view this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 101/2016 (pdf 452Kb) 

Date Released: 05 September 2016