Irish Forest Owners (IFO), a national organization representing forest owner producer groups in Ireland, has officially become a member of the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF). CEPF serves as the collective voice for forest owners across Europe, advocating for sustainable forest management, private property ownership, and the economic viability of the forest sector. With its headquarters in Brussels, CEPF is led by Secretary General Fanny-Pomme Langue and a board of directors consisting of five full-time staff members.
During the General Assembly held in Finland, Derek McCabe, the chairperson of North East Forestry Group, introduced IFO to the wider community of national forest owner organizations in Europe. The inclusion of IFO brings the total number of national forest owner organizations represented by CEPF to 22, including both EU and non-EU countries. Additionally, three associated members representing specific regions or regional forest cooperative organizations are also part of CEPF. In total, CEPF represents the interests of approximately 16 million forest owners, including private individuals, families, and cooperatives, who manage around 60% of the European forest area.
Nicholas Sweetman, chairperson of IFO, expressed the significance of this milestone for the organization, stating, “This is a very important step forward for IFO in terms of representation at the European level, where decisions affecting Irish forestry are ultimately made.” Sweetman emphasized the benefits of IFO’s membership in CEPF, which grants access to a wealth of information and experience from forest owners across Europe. He also highlighted the opportunity for active collaboration with European counterparts.
CEPF’s primary objective is to establish reliable and equitable political frameworks and enhance the position of European forest owners in all policy processes relevant to the forest sector. IFO emphasizes the importance of this mission, as European and international forest policies are heavily influenced by various sectorial policies, including those related to climate, energy, environment, trade, and agriculture.
Derek McCabe, reflecting on the General Assembly, noted that forestry in Ireland is considered an industry in its infancy, which presents a positive opportunity to learn from the mistakes made by other countries in terms of forestry development. By joining CEPF, IFO aims to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the Irish forestry sector, benefiting from the knowledge and best practices shared by European counterparts.