Ireland’s Forest Strategy has been undermined by partnership with UK investment firm
Coillte’s controversial partnership with a UK investment firm is undermining Ireland’s new Forest Strategy before it has even begun, according to Social Democrats Agriculture spokesperson Holly Cairns.
“The long-delayed Forest Strategy says all the right things and makes big commitments. But based on this Government’s track record and the recent Coillte deal with Gresham House, it is not worth the paper it is written on.
“Not surprisingly, there are widespread objections to this arrangement. Under the plan, Coillte – a public body – will do all the heavy lifting by sourcing tens of thousands of acres in rural Ireland, planting trees and managing the forests. However, private international investors will reap the rewards.
“Already, €25 million of public money has been invested in the fund to facilitate a corporate land-grab of huge swathes of rural Ireland.
“The Coillte deal highlights serious flaws in the Government’s approach to forestry policy and climate action. The State should be developing our forests in a way that supports biodiversity and a sustainable forestry sector.
“The Minister for Agriculture seems to have been asleep at the wheel by allowing this agreement to be signed off without proper public scrutiny or debate. Minister McConalogue has stated that the Coillte deal is not the Government’s preferred option, yet his department has been aware of a proposed public/private partnership for almost two years.
“It appears that the Minister has been unable to see the wood for the trees when it comes to the Coillte deal.
“Coillte makes a profit of €100 million a year and has a landbank of over 1.1 million acres – so why exactly does it require the involvement of a UK-based investment firm?
“All of this undermines the credibility of Ireland’s new Forest Strategy before it has even begun.”
January 26, 2023