The Government should amend the mandates of public bodies such as Coillte and Bord na Móna to prioritise protection of the environment, a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has claimed.

In a letter sent to Government ministers and other elected officials this week, the Environmental Pillar, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the Sustainable Water Network maintained that a lack of oversight and accountability in the operation of public bodies was undermining Ireland’s response to the “climate and biodiversity emergency”.

Recent public outrage in response to the agreement between Coillte and Gresham House had shown that the State’s model of managing public lands was “deeply out of step with the public interest”, the NGOs stated.

“Coillte’s agreement with Gresham House and the persistent greenwashing of outdated and unsustainable land use signal an unacceptable lack of leadership by the State in response to Ireland's declared climate and biodiversity emergency,” the letter contended.


Pointing out that Coillte, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Bord na Móna are three of the largest landowners in the State the NGOs called on the Government to:

  • Amend the legal mandates conferred on Coillte, OPW and Bord Na Móna to ensure that the protection and restoration of the environment and climate action are core obligations, and place the Government's commitment to retain public land in public ownership on a legal footing.
  • Issue new letters of expectation from Government to the boards of Coillte and Bord Na Móna signaling the imminent reform of their legal mandates and directing them to not enter into any legal agreements which would undermine public ownership or public access to their landholdings.
  • “The untapped potential of Coillte and Bord Na Móna’s land holdings presents an unprecedented opportunity to restore nature at a scale, delivering essential ecosystem services to society such as biodiversity restoration, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as employment and public amenity,” the NGOs pointed out.

    “The overall benefit/cost ratio of effective environmental protection and nature restoration are overwhelmingly positive,” the letter added.

    The environmental bodies also called for amending legislation to ensure that the mandates of ESB and Gas Networks Ireland are updated.

    The new mandates should incorporate “commitments to act in accordance with national and international climate and environmental law and ensure meaningful engagement and early consultation with citizens and local communities”, the letter claimed.