Forestry industry set for thousands of new jobs

Two new investments announced this morning will see over €200m pumped into the Irish forestry and woodland amenities

Forestry industry set for thousands of new jobs

Photocall file photo

The forestry industry has the potential to double with the creation of 5,000 new jobs over the next 10 years according to Coillte.

It comes after this morning’s announcement of two new large-scale investment programmes worth over €200m to the sector.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) have agreed to back a new initiative from sustainable timberland investment fund Dasos that aims to support €112m worth of new investment in privately owned forests across the country.

The fund will aim to improve the management of the forests and increase the supply of wood for commercial use. 

A separate €90m long-term loan from the EIB will be used to upgrade Coillte owned forests and to construct or maintain 1,600kms of forest roads and 1,000km of walking paths throughout the country.

The money will be used across the 440,000 hectares of Coillte owned land.

Fergal Leamy, CEO Coillte, Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Andrew McDowell, VP, European investment Bank, 03-02-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.

Coillte chief executive Fergal Leamy said the money will be used to harness the advantages provided by the Irish climate:

“In Ireland we have a real competitive advantage in a few key areas - forestry is one of them,” he said. “We grow our trees a lot quicker than anybody else because of our climate and so this investment allows us to do that.”

“The money will be specifically used to plant plantations,” he said. “It will be specifically used to upgrade cycle tracks and recreational facilities throughout the country and the money will allow us to buy new areas and grow our business and buy new land for afforestation.”

The partnership with Dasos marks the first European forestry project to be supported by the European Investment Plan - which aims to unlock €315bn in new investment for projects in key strategic areas to increase employment around the bloc.

Mr Leamy said that with further investment, the forestry industry has the potential to double over the next 10 years.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said he expects the initiative to give an economic boost to the sector.

“More investment in any sector of course should ultimately lead to more jobs notwithstanding the improving technology,” he said. “But I would hope - as the figure that was mentioned today - that 5,000 new jobs could be created.”

He said continued investment in the forestry sector is a “win-win” for the Irish economy, local communities and the environment.

"Forests help to keep our rural areas vibrant and sustainable, providing over three million jobs in the EU,” he said.

“They also play a major role in the protection of EU biodiversity and represent a key sector in the transition towards a low-carbon and climate friendly economy.”