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 Conservation Agency (Administration de la nature et des forêts).
Who is concerned
Anyone wishing to receive financial aid to restore the forest ecosystem through reforestation must submit their application to the head of the district concerned.
To receive the aid, the applicant must ascertain that the area to be reforested:
- is in a green zone. Areas where pesticides are used or where ground work has been done which degrades the soil structure (e.g. tilling and stump removal) are ineligible;
- has at least 40 ares, or that the surface area can be divided into several parcels of at least 10 ares each within the forest stand;
- forms a single, contiguous forest stand.
The following are excluded:
- reforestation for the production of Christmas trees or ornamental trees;
- short-rotation afforestation on agricultural land;
- sheltered reforestation if older forest stands have an overlap greater than 0.5;
- reforestation in compensation for clearings;
- persons who have been sentenced to carry out reforestation measures because they have been found guilty of:
- ordering or committing clearing or excessive cutting without authorisation;
- mutilation or allowing the mutilation of trees;
- transformation of hardwood stands into softwood stands.
The application must be submitted to the head of the district before work commences.
How to proceed
Filing an application
When submitting an application, the applicant must indicate:
- their surname and first name;
- their address;
- their telephone number;
- their banking institution and account number;
- their national identification number;
- the total area of forest land affected by the project;
- information on the area to be reforested (commune, section, locality, cadastral number, cadastral surface and treated surface).
If the applicant owns a farm, they must also state:
- the farm holding number;
- the farm accident insurance number.
A description of the planned work and information on the type of plantation (enrichment planting in an existing regeneration development, plantation of a forest stand with mainly hard or softwood species) are also needed.
The application must be accompanied by the following:
- a topographic map (scale 1:10,000) with site location;
- a cadastral extract of the plots concerned.
upon completion of the work, a copy of the master certificates must be obtained from the supplier of the saplings.
The head of the district will inform the applicant of the Nature Conservation 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 of enrichment plantations in an existing regeneration project;
- EUR 50 per are of the area to be reforested, for other plantations of hardwood species;
- EUR 30 per are of the area to be reforested, for other plantations of softwood species.
The amounts can be doubled for reforestation work carried out following a windthrow. The administration must take stock of the damage and the minister must declare by order that the situation which caused the windthrow was a natural disaster.
The aid is paid in 2 instalments:
- the first instalment is paid after the completion of the planting on submission of a provisional acceptance report;
- the second instalment will be paid within 3 years of the first instalment, on submission of a final acceptance report:
- documenting a minimum recovery of 80 % of the plants;
- asserting that the maintenance of the new plantations is guaranteed.
Fill planting to achieve a minimum recovery of 80 % is not subsidised.
With regard to the reforestation preparation work, the beneficiary must:
- keep the refuse from the clearing (branches less than 5cm in diameter on the cut end) on the ground of the surface to be reforested;
- 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 reforestation in the interest of safeguarding the wooded area and respect certain ecological criteria;
- preserve natural regrowth which is not likely to compete with the planted species, except when transforming a forest stand with a view to reducing a species that is foreign to the stand;
- 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, a certain number of coppice stems should be kept to ensure the proper development of young plants. The trunks of the old forest stand must be removed gradually as the new plantation grows;
- the proportion of hardwood species planted during subsequent maintenance works and other operations should not be reduced intentionally;
- 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.
Enrichment plantations in an existing regeneration project
The beneficiary must ensure that:
- the plantation is made in clusters;
- each cluster contains at least 25 plants;
- the clusters, of which there must be at least 10, are positioned in the gaps in naturally occurring regeneration areas, allowing sufficient light for the plants to grow;
- the clusters are spaced at least 10 metres apart, edge to edge, and their centre is marked by a coloured stake;
- the species authorised 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
They must also ensure that:
- the density of plantation of primary species is at least 2,500 plants per ha;
- the plantation contains 70 % of one or more of the authorised primary species;
- the authorised primary species are sessile oak, pedunculate oak, common beech, sycamore, Norway maple, black alder, Douglas fir, spruce, larch and Scots pine;
- the plantation contains 30 % of one or more other species which are suited to the natural habitat of the primary species chosen for that plantation;
- in a primary hardwood plantation, the proportion of other softwood species must be no greater than 10 %, divided into clusters of at least 10 plants;
- in a primary softwood plantation, at least 30 % of other hardwood species are divided into clusters of at least 50 plants;
- a plantation where the primary species are common beech or oak is made up of clusters comprising at least 25 plants each, or strips comprising at least 4 rows of plants. The aggregate surface area of the clusters or strips actually planted must amount to 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.
Repayment of support
Any aid paid out must be repaid to the State Treasury when:
- it was obtained by means of knowingly false or incomplete representations on the part of the applicant;
- the beneficiary has failed to comply with the conditions to which the granting of the aid was subject. In that event, the beneficiary must also pay interest on the amount given, at the legal base rate, calculated as from the day of payment to the day of repayment.
If a false declaration is found to have been made through gross negligence or through failure to adhere to the principles of good forestry practices, the beneficiary is precluded from receiving aid for the year in question.
If they make a deliberate misrepresentation, they are excluded for the following year as well.