Native Tree Area Scheme

What is the Native Tree Area Scheme?

The Native Tree Area Scheme allows people to plant small areas of native forest on their land without having to get an afforestation licence.

You can plant trees on areas of land that are between 0.1 and 1 hectare. The maximum amount of forestry you can plant altogether on your farm for this scheme is 2 hectares.

The scheme aims to increase areas of native forestry in Ireland. Forests created as part of this scheme are legally protected from felling. This means when the scheme is over, you can’t cut them down without a felling licence.

You can plant the trees yourself, but you should use a registered forester to help you with your application form. See, ‘How do I apply?’ below.

If you are accepted on the scheme, the payments continue for 10 years.

What are the forestry options?

The scheme is split into 2 different options depending on where you want to plant your trees. You can plant trees on land that:

  • Has been used for farming
  • Is beside a water-way

There are different rules and premium payments depending on where you plant your trees.

Creation of Small Native Forests on farmed land – NTA1

This option is for people planting native forestry on previously farmed land.

The purpose of this option is to help contribute to Ireland's targets on a wide range of environmental priorities, mainly climate change and biodiversity.

You must plant an area of between 0.1 and 1 hectare. The area can be broken up into smaller areas so long as they are not less than 0.1 hectare. For example, you could plant the corners of fields.

The areas must be at least 20 metres in width, measured tree-to-tree. In certain situations, 10% of a proposed area can be less than 20 metres in width, but it cannot be less than 10 metres wide.

Creation of small native forests for water protection – NTA 2

This option is for people planting native forestry beside waterways, such as streams, rivers and lakes.

The purpose of this option is to protect and improve water quality and aquatic life.

You must plant an area of between 0.1 and 1 hectare. The area (or areas) must be at least 20 metres in width, measured tree-to-tree, or 25 metres when open spaces are included for Areas of Biodiversity Enhancement (ABE’s).

ABE’s are spaces which are left open to encourage and support biodiversity in an area, for example, aquatic buffer zones.

You can combine both of these options in one farm, so long as you do not exceed the maximum amount of forestry for the scheme. This is 2 hectares.

Do I qualify for the scheme?

To qualify for the scheme you must:

  • Be over 18
  • Have a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) or a company registration number (CRN), if you’re applying for a company
  • Own the land where you intend to plant the tree

While you do not have to be a farmer, the land must currently be used for farming purposes. These include:

  • Dairy farming
  • Producing livestock
  • Cultivating fodder or tillage crops
  • Growing horticultural crops

How much do I get?

The grant is split into 2 main grant payments and you also get yearly premium payments for up to 10 years.

You can also get grants for fencing to protect trees from animals. has more information (pdf) about these grants.

Grant payments

You get your first grant payment after you plant your trees. The second payment can be claimed at least 4 years after planting.


Grant 1 rate (€ per hectare)

Grant 2 rate (€ per hectare)

NTA 1 - forests on farmed land



NTA 2 – forests for water protection



Premium details

These premiums are paid yearly and will last for 10 years.


Annual premium rate (€ per hectare)

Total premium (€ per hectare)

NTA1 – forests on farmed land



NTA2 – forests for water protection



You must be accepted on the scheme to get the payments.

How do I apply?

There are a number of steps involved in applying for the scheme and claiming payments. The forms are available on

1. Consult a registered forester and submit your application form (Form 1)

Contact a registered forester to help with your application. The registered forester will visit your farm to complete a field assessment and make sure the site is suitable for planting. The registered forester will then recommend which option you should choose for the scheme and will help you prepare and submit your application form. has a list of registered foresters.

If your application is successful, you will get written confirmation from the Department of of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This will include the start date of your contract. Once you get this confirmation, you can start planting your trees.

2. Apply for the first grant instalment and premium (Form 2)

Once you have planted your trees, you can submit an application to get your first grant and premium payments. This must be done within 12 weeks of planting your trees.

The registered forester must complete a site visit and a detailed field and forest plot assessment to make sure the trees have been planted correctly. You may also need to include supporting documentation with this form.

3. Apply for the second grant instalment (Form 3)

You can apply for the second instalment grant 4 years after planting your forest. This is done with your registered forester after they have completed a site visit and a detailed field and forest plot assessment.

4. Apply for the remaining yearly premium payments

You can apply for your second and subsequent yearly premiums online at You can claim these payments annually, as long as you are following the scheme terms and conditions (pdf).

You must apply for a premium within 3 years of the 1 January of the year in which that particular premium was due for payment. For example, if a premium was due in 2024, you must apply for it by 31 December 2026. Otherwise, you will lose the premium.

Need help with the application forms?

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine can help if you have questions about the different application forms. You can contact them on:

  • Form 1 (approvals, application procedures)
  • Form 2 (first grant and first premium) (
  • Form 3 (second grant)
  • Subsequent premiums

Where can I plant trees?

You should get the area you want to plant assessed by a registered forester to make sure that it is suitable for planting.

You must have a minimum tree spacing of 3x3 metres, which will give a planting density of 1,100 trees per hectare. (This will be different if you need to have deer shelters.)

The area you plant must be protected from grazing. This means animals must be fenced off from the area.

You must also keep the site free of invasive species, such as rhododendron. Areas that are heavily infested with invasive species are not suitable for the scheme.

Planting on previously farmed land

If you are planting on previously farmed land under the NTA 2 option, there more rules about where you can plant trees.

  • You must have a 10-13 metre water set-back area where less than 20% of the area is planted with trees and no tree is within 2 metres of the water
  • You must put a fence 2 metres from the outer row of trees on the side of the forest which is facing inland. No fence is allowed on the side of the forest facing the water.
  • You cannot use herbicides in the water set-back area

For more information on where to plant, see the scheme terms and conditions.

What trees can I plant?

All tree species planted as part of the scheme must be native to Ireland.

The types of trees you can plant depend on the type of soil you have, seebelow. A registered forester will help you to decide which option suits your land best.


Planting mixture

Scenario 1: Dry Mineral Soil

For example, podzols, brown podzols or brown earths

· 30% Oak - to be planted in predominantly pure groups

· 30% Birch - scattered intimately throughout with the remainder to be planted in pure groups

· 25% Scots pine - to be planted in small pure groups, focusing on parts of the plot and away from any watercourses adjoining or crossing the plot

· 15% other native species (see list below)  


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

Scenario 2: Wet Mineral Soil

For example, gleys

· 50% Alder - to be planted in pure groups (30-40 trees), with groups of Alder and Birch interspersed alternately

· 30% Birch - to be planted in pure groups (30-40 trees), with groups of Alder and Birch interspersed alternately

· 15% Oak - to be planted in small pure groups, focusing on the dryer parts of the plot

· 5% other native species (see list below)


Changes of + or – 25% for each species will be accepted.


Other native species

Other native species which are accepted under the scheme include:

  • Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
  • Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)
  • Silver birch (Betula pendula)
  • Downy birch (Betula pubescens)
  • Hazel (Corylus avellana)
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Crab apple (Malus sylvestris)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Black poplar (Populus nigra)
  • Aspen (Populus tremula)
  • Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
  • Bird cherry (Prunus padus)
  • Sessile oak (Quercus petraea)
  • Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur)
  • Goat willow (Salix caprea)
  • Grey willow (Salix cinerea)
  • Bay willow (Salix pentandra)
  • English whitebeam (Sorbus anglica)
  • Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Irish whitebeam (Sorbus Hibernica)

More information about the Native Tree Area Scheme

For more information, see the scheme terms and conditions. have a useful FAQs document (pdf).

Page edited: 17 May 2024