The legislation on aid for improving the protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystems provides for financial support to restore forest ecosystems through reforestation.
Applicants must submit their application to the district authority with competent jurisdiction, which will notify them of the decision of the Nature and Forest Agency (Administration de la nature et des forêts).
Who is concerned
Anyone wishing to apply for financial aid to restore a forest ecosystem through reforestation.
The applicant must verify that the surface area to be reforested:
- is at least 40 ares; or
- comprises several plots of at least 10 ares within the same forest stand; or
- is 30 ares, in case of reforestation following a windthrow event or bark beetle infestation.
Moreover, the surface must:
- form a single, contiguous forest stand;
- be in a listed green zone: this requirement precludes surfaces where:
- pesticides are used; or
- groundwork is carried out which degrades the soil structure (tilling and stump removal);
- respect a planting distance of at least 2 metres from gravelled forest roads.
The following are precluded:
- reforestation for the production of Christmas trees or ornamental trees;
- short-rotation afforestation on agricultural land;
- sheltered reforestation if the old forest stands have an overlap greater than 0.5;
- reforestation in compensation for clearings;
- reforestation measures as a sanction for persons who have:
- ordered or committed unauthorised clearing or excessive cutting;
- mutilated or allowing the mutilation of trees;
- transformation of hardwood stands into softwood stands.
Applications must be lodged before any work begins.
How to proceed
Filing an application
Applications must be filed with the head of the district concerned.
- their surname and first name;
- their address;
- their telephone number;
- their banking institution and account number;
- their national identification number;
- the total area of forested property;
- information about:
- the area to be reforested: commune, section, locality, cadastral number, cadastral surface and treated surface, windthrow;
- the type of plantation: plantation to enrich an existing regeneration programme, plantation of a forest stand comprising mainly hardwoods or softwoods;
- a description of the planned work.
- information about:
If the applicant owns a farm, they must also specify:
- the farm holding number;
- the farm accident insurance number.
The application must be accompanied by the following:
- a topographic map (scale 1:10,000) showing the location of the reforestation site;
- a cadastral extract for the plots concerned.
The head of the district concerned will inform the applicant of the Nature and Forest Agency's decision, and the measures to be taken to receive a subsidy.
Amount of aid
The amount of the aid is fixed as follows:
- EUR 50 per cluster, for plantations to enrich an existing regeneration project;
- EUR 50 per are of the area to be reforested, for other plantations comprising mainly hardwood species;
- EUR 30 per are of the area to be reforested, for other plantations comprising mainly softwood species.
For reforestation work carried out in the wake of a windthrow event or bark beetle infestation, these amounts are doubled, and additional aid in the amount of EUR 50 per are for loss of earnings is granted. The administration must issue a certificate acknowledging force majeure and the damage caused. Such a certificate can also be obtained from the competent district authorities. The minister must declare the event that caused the windthrow a natural disaster.
The aid is paid in 2 instalments:
- the 1st half after completion of the plantation work, on the basis of a provisional acceptance report;
- the 2nd half within 3 years of payment of the 1st half, on the basis of a definitive acceptance report:
- documenting the recovery of at least 80 % of the plants;
- certifying that the new plantations will be adequately maintained.
In the case of reforestation in the wake of a windthrow event or bark beetle infestation, the aid is also paid in 2 instalments:
- the 1st, representing 75 % of the total amount, after the completion of the plantation work, on the basis of a provisional acceptance report;
- the 2nd within 3 years of the payment of the 1st instalment, on the basis of a definitive acceptance report:
- documenting the recovery of at least 80% of the plants;
- certifying that the new plantations will be adequately maintained.
For works conducted in preparation of the reforestation, the beneficiary must:
- leave on the ground of the surface to be reforested, branch trimmings having a diameter of less than 5 cm at the cut end;
- not grind any natural regrowth of forest species, either above ground or in the soil.
For reforestation and maintenance work, the beneficiary must:
- respect a planting distance of at least 2 metres from gravelled forest roads;
- carry out the reforestation while seeking to safeguard the wooded area and satisfy certain ecological criteria;
- preserve natural regrowth that is unlikely to compete with the planted species, except when transforming a forest stand to reduce the proportion of a non-local species;
- clear the reforestation only if its development is compromised; only adventitious vegetation which could directly compromise the plants' development must be removed. Complete clearing is allowed in order to combat bracken fern, broom and brambles;
- gradually remove trees from the old forest stand when cultivating a sheltered plantation;
- in the case of the conversion of a coppice forest into a hardwood forest, keep a certain number of coppice stems to ensure the proper development of young plants. The trunks of the old forest stand must be removed gradually as the new plantation grows;
- not intentionally reduce the proportion of hardwood species planted during upkeep and subsequent works;
- after completion of the works, provide the administration with:
- a copy of the master certificates which must be obtained from the supplier of the forest plants;
- a planting diagram, showing the distances, species and spatial arrangement of the plants, as well as the location of plantation clusters and strips, if any.
Criteria governing planting works
Enrichment plantations in an existing regeneration project
The beneficiary must ensure that:
- the trees are planted in clusters;
- each cluster contains at least 25 plants;
- the clusters – at least 10 in number – must be positioned in the gaps in naturally occurring regeneration areas allowing sufficient light for the plants to grow;
- the clusters must be spaced at least 10 metres apart, edge to edge, and their centre must be marked by a coloured stake;
- the species that can be used for enrichment plantations are: sessile oak, pedunculate oak, common beech, sycamore, Norway maple, black alder, service tree, chequers tree, Scots elm, field elm, European white elm, black poplar, yew, domestic pear, wild pear, wild cherry, large-leaved lime, small-leaved lime, and larch.
Sheltered plantations or after final cutting
The planting work must comply with the following criteria:
- the density of plantation of primary species must be at least 2,500 plants per ha;
- one or more of the authorised primary species must make up 70 % of the plantation;
- the authorised primary species are sessile oak, pedunculate oak, common beech, sycamore, Norway maple, black alder, Douglas fir, spruce, larch and Scots pine;
- one or more other species that are suited to the natural habitat of the primary species chosen for the plantation must make up 30 % of the plantation;
- in a plantation containing mainly:
- hardwood trees: the proportion of other softwood species may not exceed 10 %, in groups of at least 10 plants;
- softwood trees: there must be at least 30 % other hardwood species, in groups of at least 50 plants;
- common beech or oak: the trees must be planted in clusters of at least 25 plants, or in strips of at least 4 rows of plants.
The aggregate surface area of the clusters or strips actually planted must account for between 35 % and 50 % of the surface to be reforested. The clusters and strips must be uniformly distributed over the surface of the stand. Natural regrowth between the clusters and strips must be encouraged.
The beneficiary will be required to repay the aid received if:
- it was obtained by means of false or incomplete statements;
- the beneficiary has failed to comply with the conditions for granting the aid. In that event, the beneficiary will also be required to pay interest at the legal rate.
For the year in question, the beneficiary will also be precluded from receiving any aid for improving the protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the event of:
- a false declaration due to gross negligence; or
- failure to abide by the principles of best forestry practices.
If their application is denied, or if they are required to repay any aid received, the applicant may appeal the administrative decision by the usual means of appeal (non-contentious appeal, legal appeal), provided they observe the legal limitation periods.
It is also possible to lodge an appeal with the Ombudsman.