Focusing on conventional forestry management, while still delivering financial returns

Forestry in Ireland contributes approximately €2.3 billion to the economy each year and provides approximately 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. Ireland has a natural competitive advantage in forestry.

A mild, wet climate and fertile soils ensure consistently high growth rates, unrivalled anywhere in Europe. Irish forests are very efficient in capturing carbon and producing oxygen for us to breathe. They are an important tool in tackling climate change.

However, Irish forests face threats, with increased storm events resulting in a higher risk of trees being blown down. Drier, hotter summers increase the risk of fire and damaging insects.

To help tackle this, the SLM Silva Fund was developed.

Serving a purpose

Paddy Purser, lead forest manager for the SLM Silva Fund, and the technical lead for all forest management activities, said:

“The SLM Silva Fund is adopting forest management practices that deliver multiple benefits in a more efficient way than conventional forest management. This is while still delivering the economic benefits.”

Paul McMahon, managing partner of SLM Partners, an investment management firm for ecological forestry and farming systems, also commented on the fund, saying:

The aim of the fund is to acquire existing forest properties in Ireland and implement a more sustainable form of forest management, known as Continuous Cover Forestry. This approach avoids clear-felling [the removal of all trees from an area chosen for harvesting]. Instead, it relies on selective harvesting of individual trees and natural regeneration, to develop more natural and diverse forests.

The European Investment Bank invested in the fund via its Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), which is part-funded by the European Commission.

“The NCFF is also making a technical assistance grant available that will be used to fund training, monitoring and research activities in Ireland,” said Paddy.

Paul conclude, saying: “Continuous Cover Forestry can have a number of positive impacts on soil health, water quality, biodiversity and resilience to a changing climate, while also delivering an attractive financial return.”