'Farmers won’t be able to compete with multinationals buying land for forestry'
Concern has been raised at the establishment of a €112m forestry investment fund, which aims to purchase, lease and manage plantations involving the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
The €112m investment is spearheaded by Dasos Capital, a Finnish-based fund, and is backed by the EIB and ISIF, who are investing €28.5m and €55m respectively.
However, the plan has been labelled shortsighted by Roscommon/Galway East TD Michael Fitzmaurice who said it would have "detrimental effect" on small farmers.
“My worst fears were confirmed this week when I got written confirmation from Dasos Capital that they would not be lending to landowners here to pursue planting, rather their strategy would be to purchase lands and have the larger forestry companies here manage their holdings for them" he said
"We again face a situation where European policy making, coupled with our own Governments' insistence on encouraging the plantation of land will result in the widespread afforestation of rural regions.
“Farmers will find it almost impossible to compete for land holdings against these big multinationals.
“It will make farming an even more difficult venture for many smaller farmers and indeed younger farmers into the future and it is a short sighted policy by our Government and the EU," he said.
"This policy means that our resources will be further denuded as big private companies come in buying up land for forestry to the detriment of local communities and farm families.