Coillte launches ‘risk-free’ private forestry initiative

Coillte has launched a private forestry partnership initiative. ‘Coillte Premium Partners’ has been presented as a new option for owners of private forestry to earn an annual risk-free income from their forests – without the need to sell their land.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed; Coillte Chairman, John Moloney; and Coillte Chief Executive, Fergal Leamy launched the product in Cork.

Coillte Premium Partners is aimed at landowners of high-quality, commercial forests where the Forest Service payments have or are due to expire. Through the partnership, Coillte will manage all aspects of the private forest including the harvesting and sale of the timber while the landowners retain ownership of the land.

Forestry owners will receive an annual payment for their crop while Coillte will own the harvesting rights to the crop. The landowner will receive a lump sum payment when the crop has been clear-felled.

Forest cover in Ireland is currently at 11%, with over 150,000ha of privately-owned forests planted following several State incentives, including the payment of planting grants and annual payments for 15 to 20 years. This private timber resource, which is now reaching maturity, is heavily fragmented – with more than 21,000 individual owners.

Coillte, which manages 440,000ha of forests and sells over 2.5 million cubic metres of timber every year, will enable a “co-ordinated approach to optimising the mobilisation of this private forestry resource through its Premium Partners offering”.

Private forestry owners who become Coillte Premium Partners will apparently have “direct access to Coillte’s forest management expertise, operational capacity, planning systems, certification and sales channels”.

Minister Creed said the scheme supports Irish forest owners and creates new value in the rural economy, through the mobilisation of timber from privately-owned forests.

Coillte has been managing Irish forests since its inception.

“This is an opportunity for private forestry owners to enter a partnership with an experienced and trusted partner to optimise the value of their crop. Coillte supports the development and growth of the export-led timber processing sector in a way that is supportive of Ireland’s national afforestation policy,” the Minister said.

CEO Fergal Leamy said the partnership will allow private forestry owners to leverage Coillte’s expertise and infrastructure network, so that they can maximise the value of their forestry plantation.

“This initiative is aligned with our strategic objective to drive and co-ordinate the mobilisation of forestry supply in Ireland, ensuring that the projected doubling of the forestry industry in Ireland is achieved, along with the associated economic benefits that this will bring to rural communities,” Leamy said.