Coillte has a role to play in meeting Food Harvest 2020 targets

Coillte CEO Gerry Britchfield believes the organisation has a key role to play in regard to enabling the agriculture sector meet the ambitious targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 proposals.

Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture today he said: “One of the key challenges set by the Food Harvest 2020 is how to achieve growth targets for example in primary agricultural output, whilst delivering on Ireland environmental commitments.”

He highlighted: “We believe Coillte’s land bank can play an important role in squaring that circle. Our natural resources, assets and skillsets can be deployed to support the objectives of the government with regard to Food Harvest 2020.”

Britchfield stated: “Our forest assets can deliver a range of benefits for Ireland including increasing carbon sequestration, the production of low carbon and energy efficient building products and enabling the development and efficient supply of chain from forest plants, to harvesting, to routes to market to encourage afforestation by landowners.”

“Each of which will reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Giving head room for growth in output in the agricultural sector to meet the targets set out by the government in the Food Harvest 2020 report,” he added.

Coillte is the largest landowner in the country with an estate of 440,000 ha or 7 per cent of the land area in the country. The organisation has presence in every county in Ireland and directly employs 900 people.

Britchfield stated: “We are at the heart of Ireland’s drive to deliver 40 per cent of Ireland’s energy generation from renewable energy by 2020. We also provide important public goods to society such as recreation, landscape protection, and conservation.”

He concluded: “Coillte is ideally placed to support the role out of the government’s energy agenda. We are working to enable the growth of a bio-energy sector in Ireland.”