Latest News as of August 2013:
"The sale of the harvesting rights for the country’s State-owned forests has been abandoned. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the Government will instead focus on creating a new company — merging Coillte and Bord na Móna — to develop commercial bio-energy and foerestry interests. The minister said the decision to stall the sale of about one million acres of trees was based on concerns for jobs, public access and financial losses..."
Well, to put important things first...
I am sorry for attracting your attention by stating a misleading topic - Ireland isn't considering to sell it's forests to lower the national debt.
It's just considering to sell the harvesting rights of the forests to lower the national debt...
Some short history...
Ireland has established it's own commercial company to take care of Irelands' forests: Coillte.
So what is Coillte?
Coillte's core purpose is to enrich lives locally, nationally and globally through the innovative and sustainable management of natural resources
Coillte is a commercial company operating in forestry, land based businesses, renewable energy and panel products.
The company employs approx 1,100 people and was established in 1988. It owns over 445,000 hectares of land, about 7% of the land cover of Ireland. (Taken from the WebSite of Coillte)
The national debt...
As a condition of the IMF/ECB/EFSF “Troika” loan for the amount of €67.5bn Ireland must generate €2 billion from the disposal of State-owned assets and companies. As part of this, the government has plans to sell off the harvesting rights to the states forestry for the next 80 years.
The economic facts behind...
A report, which was published on the 28th of January 2013, finds that the State would remain liable for costs of €1.3 billion following a sale of harvesting rights. To cover these costs, Coillte would need to sell at €78 per cubic metre, which is “well above current or recent prices.” The average recent price paid for Coillte supplies to saw mills has been just over €43 per cubic metre (details see here).
A second report published on the 26th of Februar 2013 by the Irish Timber Council (ITC), the representative body for the country’s sawmills, says that it “makes no sense” for the government to proceed with the sale of the harvesting rights on Coillte land. The ITC also claims in its report that the sale of harvesting rights would fall “well short of the mooted valuation of €400 million to €600 million”.
The emotions of the people
It seems nobody wants to sell Coillte's harvesting rights:
How long, the American farmer-poet Wendell Berry asked, does it take to make the woods?
As long, he answered himself, as it takes to make the world.
But Berry warned that woodlands can be unmade overnight, and that it then takes generations to remake them. The Government should remember this, before it proceeds to sell off the harvesting rights in our national forests, currently vested in Coillte.
ANY SALE OF COILLTE’S FOREST CROP WILL THREATEN RECREATION AND THE FOREST ENVIRONMENT
The organisations below, who altogether represent many thousands of recreational users and environmentalists, wish to express their deep concern at the proposed sale of the Coillte forest crop. The Coillte estate, much of which is on remote and sensitive natural habitats, represents more than 7% of Ireland’s landmass; it includes 11 Forest Parks and more than 150 recreation sites. It is one of Ireland’s most significant recreational and environmental resources – this is borne out by the fact that each year over 18 million individual visits are made to the estate. These visits are made, not only by specific interest groups such as orienteers, hillwalkers, runners and birdwatchers but, most importantly, by local people and family groups.
...This use of the Coillte estate, by the people of Ireland has been made possible by the open access policy that has existed for almost fifty years. Additionally, as a semi-state body, Coillte has put recreational amenities in place and has managed sensitive areas from a recreational and environmental perspective.
The current proposal to sell the forest assets owned by Coillte presents a severe threat to the use of these forests by the people of Ireland and by visitors to the country. Private enterprise owners will have a sole commercial focus in the management of the estate.
In saying that the sale of land will be excluded from any possible deal, the Government is overlooking the fact that it is not just the ownership but also the management of the estate that is critical. The proposed sale will threaten the current open access policy; it will also lead to a slow decline in the current recreational amenities as these will no longer be maintained as they should be. Additionally private enterprise management would pose a great threat to the natural environments in and around Coillte forests.
Coillte’s estate is publicly owned land; it should be managed and maintained for the benefit of current and future generations of Irish people. We call upon the government to immediately abandon any plans to sell off this state asset.
This statement has been issued jointly by the following organisations (each of whom may also issue their own specific statement on the issue):-
- Mountaineering Ireland
- Birdwatch Ireland
- Just Forests
- Irish Mountain Running Association
- Irish Orienteering Association
- Irish Wildlife Trust
- Irish Natural Forestry Foundation
- National Association of Regional Game Councils
- An Oige
- An Taisce
- Zero Waste Alliance Ireland
The money interests...
...seemed already been expressed by
- Swiss finance company Helvetia Wealth - who own the International Forestry Fund (IFF) - chaired by Bertie Ahern, (ex-prime minister of Ireland) and
- The China Investment Corporation.
Seems the Big Land Grab not only happens in developing countries - it has found some profitable cases in Europe as well. A new type of colonialism is grabbing out to the world - driven and powered by the virtual money which was generated by the perverse business models of high finance. That non-existent money should now be converted to land ownership in Africa and in -surprise,surprise in Ireland. So the Irish people have to pay twice for the losses caused by the high finance. First they pay by high taxes and high unemployment rate and now they should pay a second time by sacrificing their forests.
Ireland is considering to sell it's forests