Further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, NewERA, Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department examined the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte's forest assets. This examination included the identification of the forestry assets involved, the determination of their value and the consideration of a number of issues associated with the proposed sale of the harvesting rights.
With reference to the specific aspect which the Deputy mentions, harvesting and replanting are integral parts of the management of planted forests. The use of harvested wood for the manufacture of a range of wood products and as substitute for fossil fuel has substantial climate change mitigation benefits. In order to preserve the forest estate, my Department’s long-standing policy is that replanting should take place following harvesting apart from exceptional circumstances; this helps to ensure that there is no long term change on carbon stocks. The replanting obligation was one of the issues identified in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. For these reasons, the proposed sale of Coillte harvesting rights would be in accordance with any sectoral plan the Department may develop in the context of the climate action legislation.
The overall analysis on the proposed sale of Coillte harvesting rights has been finalised, the outcome of which is currently being considered by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and myself. A Memorandum with recommendations will be brought to Government today for consideration.