Two separate announcements today has seen €200m in EU support for Irish forestry confirmed.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) have agreed to back a new initiative expected to support €112m of new investment in privately owned forests across Ireland.
This new engagement with Dasos represents the first Irish agricultural project and the first forest project in Europe to be supported by the Investment Plan for Europe that seeks to unlock €315bln of new investment.
The project will see the EIB and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund work together for the first time in the agriculture sector and support a €112m investment by Dasos, a specialist forestry investment fund.
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will provide €55 million and the EIB €28.5 million for this scheme.
Additional support is expected from other investors as the initiative progresses.
Pan-European forest investment fund Dasos will seek to address issues faced by small scale forests across the country by working to improve forest management and strengthen the supply of wood for commercial use.
The investment will support crucial upgrades to Ireland's forestry infrastructure through the consolidation of its management..
By supporting direct land acquisition, lease contracts, afforestation and other forms of land management the Dasos initiative intends to develop into a professionally managed portfolio of up to 15,000 hectares of forests across Ireland in the coming years.
New forest management investment by Dasos across the country seeks to ensure a more predictable supply of wood including from previously subsidised forests where subsidies are coming to an end.
There are an estimated 19,500 private owners of small forests across Ireland. Many of these plantations were originally supported by land based grants that are now expiring as the plantations reach an age that requires more scale efficient forest management.
In a separate announcement the EIB also today confirmed details of a new €90 million long-term loan to be used to finance the cost of planting, forest management and forest road construction and maintenance by Ireland’s state-owned, commercial forestry company Coillte over the next four years.
Under the new investment more than 35 thousand hectares will be replanted in line with international best practice and more than 1,600 km of forest roads will be constructed and upgraded.
The scheme will also improve maintenance of 1,000 km of publically accessible walking routes and mountain bike trails. Investment backed by the new EIB loan will take place in Coillte’s 440,000 hectare estate at sites across the country.