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Proposed Coillte fund causing concern for environmentalists and farmers


Cllr Elaine McGinty

Cllr Elaine McGinty

Cllr Elaine McGinty


Labour Cllr Elaine McGinty has called for Coillte to adopt a new approach of both planting more publicly owned forests and of partnering with farmers to support them in developing new forestry on their own lands, which will provide a long term sustainable income and help Ireland meet our climate targets.

She says she successfully tabled a motion asking fellow Meath Councillors to support her request of a urgent review by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Pippa Hackett of the development of the Irish Strategic Forestry Fund.

“The proposed Fund is causing concern for environmentalists and farmers. The Citizens Assembly on Bio Diversity has also called for state owned woodlands to be recognised and managed as a strategic long term national asset for the benefit of the common good,” says Cllr McGinty.

“Under the reported proposal, Coillte will source the land for forestry, carry out the planting and management while it is private investments in the fund that will benefit from State grants and premia. The commercial focus of this fund will mean more monoculture forests – the wrong type of tree, driven by profit, and will not boost biodiversity or support our agriculture sector to meet ambitious sectoral emission targets.”

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Cllr McGinty feels that if a State-owned company is doing all the work, and the State is providing all the funds, then it does not make sense for private investors to get all the financial benefits including potential very lucrative carbon credits.

"Why isn’t Coillte simply managing these proposed forests themselves, or partnering with farmers not investors to provide expertise and support for them to plant their own lands? What is missing from this deal is the stakeholders of this country,” she adds. 

“The benefits to the state should be at the heart of any deal be it land, air or sea and they need to be explained to all stakeholders and future generations. “

“If Coillte cannot meet the scale of investment needed, then the government should support it to do so rather than outsourcing all the profits to the private sector. Further, if EU rules are a problem here blocking Coillte from planting more forests and receiving available grants, then the Minister should be pushing in Brussels for this to be changed so that the State can be a leader in forestry rather than outsorcing the profits to investors.”