A new initiative has just been launched to provide €200m of investments to the Irish forestry sector.

This is the first Irish agricultural project to be backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.

The investment was launched by Minister Andrew Doyle, European Investment Bank Vice President Andrew McDowell, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, and Director of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, Eugene O’Callaghan.

The project will see the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund work together for the first time and support a €200m investment by Dasos, a specialist forestry investment fund.

The Irish Strategic Investment Fund will provide €100m and the EIB will give €28.5m to the scheme.

The EIB element of the scheme is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Dasos will consolidate Irish forests into a professionally managed portfolio of around 18,000ha.

The investment will finance crucial upgrades to Ireland’s forestry infrastructure and consolidation of its management.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle said the investment will allow Ireland to reach its forestry planting targets by of 8,400ha by 2020.

We would be very anxious to highlight the potential benefits of forestry to the economy, especially to local communities, landowners and farmers.

“Today’s announcement is very welcome and is a demonstration of the level of confidence in the sector and the value it can contribute,” he said.

Minister Doyle also said that people do believe that the Irish forestry sector has potential and today’s investment announcement further strengthens the sector going forward.

Also speaking in Co. Wicklow this morning, Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President said Dasos have proven experience improving forests across northern and southern Europe, and their exciting plans have the potential to transform some of the world’s best forests here in Ireland.

“The European Investment Bank is pleased to work with Dasos and in further partnership with ISIF on an initiative that can strengthen the Irish forest industry and boost rural employment and economic growth,” he said.

Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said forests help to keep rural areas vibrant and sustainable, while also providing over 3m jobs in the EU.

They also play a major role in the protection of EU biodiversity and represent a key sector in the transition towards a low-carbon and climate friendly economy.

“Continued investment in the sector is therefore a win-win for our economy, for our local communities, and our environment.

“This strategic partnership with the European Investment Bank will help to achieve these objectives, deliver the Investment Plan for Europe and support jobs and growth in rural Ireland,” he said.