Coillte chair-designate Vivienne Jupp has stated that the agency intends on growing its land portfolio in a way that is responsible as it gears up to plant an additional 100,000ha of forestry by 2050.

Last week, Jupp told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that the Irish Strategic Forestry Fund will be used to generate the cash needed by Coillte to acquire the lands needed to meet this target.

Launched in January 2023, the fund is to provide up to €200m in capital funding to buy land to put into forestry, as well as stands of established trees.

Coillte is to source land, plant trees and take responsibility for forestry management under the Irish Strategic Forestry Fund plans.

The fund targets ownership of 12,000ha of new and existing forestry over the coming years.

“We will need land. We will have to buy land, but we will have to buy it in a responsible way, but the price of land is going up, so the cost of doing that is quite extensive, never mind getting the trees and planting the trees,” Jupp commented to the committee last Wednesday.

“That fund can avail of premiums and grants to plant trees. That helps us with the capital investment that is required to buy land and plant trees. It is a very expensive business to do that.”

Rewetting refused

When quizzed on the significance of Galway County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to Coillte for works which proposed to fell 343ha of conifer forestry and to put nature restoration measures in place, Jupp claimed the agency had been disappointed at the decision.

The county council refused permission on the basis that they had a lack of tried-and-tested mitigation measures in plan to protect designated habitats from works proposed, which included the construction of forestry roadways and rewetting peatlands.

“It is a big disappointment to us and we will have to take a look at what we can do with it,” she said.

“This is potentially something that could come up with other county councils. They are the ones that take a look at these planning applications and get the proper authority to move forward with it.”

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