Coillte representatives are before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine tomorrow to consider how best to maximise the potential of land across Ireland.

In commencing a series of hearings, the Committee last month hosted detailed discussions with leading experts from Teagasc and Coillte representatives are expected to outline the important role for forestry in Ireland’s land mix.

Committee Chairman Andrew Doyle says: “There are few greater challenges for our €10 billion agri-food industry than charting a sustainable and balanced land use strategy in the longer term. Making the right choices now has the potential to positively influence generations well into the future. While it is an issue that transcends the current Dáil term, our Committee is expecting to examine the current policy options in the area with key stakeholders and experts.

“Tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to engage with representatives of Coillte. At an earlier meeting with Teagasc, we were told of the four key demands for our land, namely, increasing food production under Food Harvest 2020, offsetting carbon, the provision of clean water and lastly, the protection of habitats for biodiversity. Fostering an appropriate level of afforestation across the country will impact on the realisation of all four goals, most particularly in relation to carbon sequestration. The recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights the absolute necessity for national, European and global action on this issue and reinforces the importance of these hearings.”

Separately, the Committee will meet with Coillte’s Chairman Designate John Moloney to consider his vision for the state company.

Deputy Doyle continues: “Under the Programme for Government, those who are being proposed for appointment as chairpersons of State boards are required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee. Tomorrow’s meeting is a valuable opportunity for our Committee to engage with the Chairman Designate on the priorities and the challenges Coillte faces in the immediate term and into the future. The meeting will serve to contribute to transparency in appointments to State Boards and a transcript of the discussion will be sent to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine for his consideration in the appointment process.”