Forestry 'needed to offset agri emissions'
A failure to increase forestry levels will constrain growth in the dairy and beef sectors, by making environmental emissions targets impossible to reach, the head of Coillte has warned.
The chief executive of the State-owned commercial forestry business said expansion in major agricultural sectors, including dairy and beef, will produce increased carbon emissions that will only be permitted if they are offset through forestry.
Farmers' traditional view in Ireland of forestry as a marginal business needed to change to include timber as a yield-generating portfolio asset, Coillte CEO Fergal Leamy said.
Coillte is the country's biggest landowner, and has developed and managed wind farms and leisure amenities as well as forestry. It also operates partnerships with individual landowners to manage commercial forestry plantations.
Coillte has faced recent criticism from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) for its management of partnership contracts with farmers, some of which date back decades.
Mr Leamy said communication with some landowners should have been better, but that as contracts matures the taxpayer-owned company is now looking to recoup its investment.
"We've paid out €20m in these partnerships, it is now time to get out money back," he noted. The 636 partnership deals agreed with farmers between 1983 and 2009 had been overwhelmingly successful, he said, but accepted some relationships had become fraught.
New partnerships - dubbed Coillte Premium Partnership - are now standardised, he said.