Late last week it came to my attention that the European Investment Bank was backing a venture with Finland based Venture Capital firm Dasos Capital to invest in Forestry in Ireland as part of a wider announcement on the forestry sector that was made. My worst fears were confirmed this week when I got written confirmation from Dasos Capital that they would not be lending to landowners here to pursue planting, rather their strategy would be to purchase lands and have the larger forestry companies here manage their holdings for them.
We again face into a situation where European policy making coupled with our own governments’ insistence on encouraging the plantation of land will result in the widespread afforestation of rural regions. Farmers will find it almost impossible to complete for land holdings against these big multinationals. It will make farming an even more difficult venture for many smaller farmers and indeed younger farmers into the future and it is a short sighted policy by our Government and the EU.
This policy means that our resources will be further denuded as big private companies come in buying up land for forestry to the detriment of local communities and farm families. We have seen vulture funds coming in to this country buying up property in recent years to the detrmient of mortgage holders those with distressed loans. In the programme for Government it was agreed that a review of forestry policy was to take place but this new venture ensures that any such review will not now happen. In fact the Government have actually welcomed this new forestry venture. \ Large parts of what was agreed in the programme for Government is not worth the paper it is written on aas far as I can see with every passing week.
I would ask what are the main farming organisations doing with regard to this announcement ? I haven’t heard a word from them on this. They would want to wake up because this is something that will affect their members directly. If this huge afforestation policy becomes a reality their membership will be dwindling because there will be far less small farmers in business around the country.