Sinn Féin has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to intervene and delay Coillte in joining its planned joint venture with UK-based investment fund Gresham House.

On Friday it was confirmed that Gresham House aims to buy 12,000ha of Irish land - existing forestry and land suitable for planting - while Coillte will manage the woodlands for it.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy described the Coillte move as “worrying for communities, local economies, and the environment”, pointing to the Scottish forestry sector which experienced “an explosion of corporate ownership” in the sector “at the expense of local communities”.


“A good forestry strategy is one that delivers for the environment, for local communities and for the economy – Coillte’s proposed joint venture will deliver none of these,” Carthy said.

“This venture appears geared entirely towards circumventing existing rules which prohibit Coillte from receiving State subsidies for afforestation by partnering with a company that will be motivated primarily by profit rather than any climate or biodiversity objectives.

“Bizarrely, a key part of the proposed venture includes the sell-off of up to 12,000 hectares of existing forestry under Coillte management,” he said.


“The only reason Government would support this venture is crystal clear – to cover their own failures."

Carthy said the Government, with a Green Party minister having responsibility for forestry, had failed to come close to its own afforestation targets of 8,000 hectares per annum.

What amounts to a massive sell-off of state lands to foreign private investors is the product of this government’s failure to deliver on forestry

“In fact, they reached just 30% of that target in 2022. The failures of this Government in this respect will have longstanding implications for Ireland’s climate action obligations,” he insisted.

“What amounts to a massive sell-off of State lands to foreign private investors is the product of this Government’s failure to deliver on forestry - and the price in the medium to long term will be borne by and in local economies, communities and the environment.”


Continuing, he added: “I am also particularly concerned of the effects this venture could have on our domestic commercial forestry sector and knock-on effects it could have on their ability to support our farmers [to] re-enter the sector.

“This is something that the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture wished to examine and I am calling on Minister McConalogue to intervene and delay this venture from proceeding until the committee completes its considerations.”

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