Legislation on financial aid to maintain and improve the ecosystemic benefits provided by forests includes an aid scheme whose purpose is to conserve natural and semi-natural forests representatives of Luxembourg forests in a natural and freely evolving state.
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).
The forest land for which this kind of aid is received is no longer eligible for other kinds of aid.
Who is concerned
Anyone wishing to receive aid for the maintenance and improvement of the ecosystemic benefits provided by forests must apply to the head of the district concerned.
Only forests in a listed protected area of national interest are eligible.
To receive the aid, the applicant must confirm that the eligible forests:
- are forests that have been listed as a protected area of national interest by Grand-Ducal regulation;
- are in a listed 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;
- are natural or semi-natural hardwood forests where:
o at least 75% of their surface area is populated by mature forest stands or coppices converted by natural aging or by forestry measures;
o the remaining 25% may be made up of recent clear-felling, young stands of indigenous, naturally rooted hardwoods aged at least 20 years, or stands of softwoods;
- the forest is a single contiguous wooded area, measuring at least 50 hectares, comprising one or more stands of trees and belonging to one or more owners. Dispensations from this surface-area requirement may be granted by the Minister for forests populated with rare phytosociological associations (xerophilic oak groves, ravine forests, marshy forests and stream-bank forests).
The applicant must submit the application to the head of the district after the area has been declared a protected zone.
How to proceed
Filing an application
When submitting an application, the applicant must state the following on the form:
- their surname and first name;
- their address;
- their telephone number;
- their banking institution and account number;
- their national identification number;
- the total area of the forest property;
- information about the surface area in question (commune, section, locality, land registry plot number, cadastral surface and processed surface area).
If the applicant owns a farm, they must also state:
- 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 site;
- a cadastral extract of the plots concerned;
- a copy of the management agreement entered into with the Minister;
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 aid is paid out in 6 instalments at five-yearly intervals. The amount of each instalment depends on:
- the dominant species in the different forest stands;
- the age brackets of the different forest stands making up the forest in question.
The amount of the grant is calculated using the grants per hectare, multiplied by the individual surface areas of the different stands, weighted by the age brackets of the stands making up the forest, which is to be allowed to evolve freely.
The grants are paid at the end of the five-year periods to which they pertain, so the first payment is made 5 years after the signing of the agreement.
The forest land for which this kind of aid is received is no longer eligible for other kinds of aid. The property owner makes a commitment for a period of at least 30 years.
The beneficiary is required to:
- sign a management agreement with the Minister, setting out the specific management conditions for achieving the desired protection goals, and the corresponding amount of aid;
- allow the ecosystem to evolve freely;
- refrain from any forestry activities with the exception of those necessary to ensure public safety and those authorised by the Minister in the interest of the conservation and management of the freely evolving forest. Any fallen trees must be left in the forest and, if possible, exactly where they fall, with the exception of softwood stands which are to be converted into natural forest over a transition period;
- refrain from developing any new infrastructure, although they are allowed to clear and maintain existing tracks and trails.
Repayment of aid
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.