DAFM’s Sneak Peek: Property Sales in Coillte Under Scrutiny!

"DAFM to Conduct Sample Review of Coillte Property Sales Amid Shareholder Concerns"

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is set to undertake a sample review of property sales within Coillte this year. Coillte, a private limited company established under the Forestry Act 1988, operates independently from DAFM, although the department holds a stake in the company. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, holds one ordinary share, while the rest of the issued share capital is in the hands of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe.

As part of the Minister for Agriculture’s oversight responsibilities, DAFM will conduct a review of a small random selection of records pertaining to property sales by Coillte. The review is scheduled for 2024, with no specific timeframe allocated as of yet, according to DAFM. Coillte manages around 440,000 hectares of land, equivalent to 7% of the country’s total land area, with 364,000 hectares under forest and 76,000 hectares classified as non-forested land.

In addition to the review, Coillte DAFM is working on a new Shareholder Letter of Expectation (SLOE) for Coillte, with the assistance of New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA), which offers financial and commercial guidance to government ministers and departments regarding their shareholdings in state companies. The SLOE, required to be updated every two years, will further specify that Coillte must inform DAFM of any land sales above €150,000, although the minister cannot approve individual sales as it falls under Coillte’s operational jurisdiction.

Coillte’s most recent published annual report for 2022 revealed pre-tax profits of €122 million on a turnover of €478 million. The company is due to release its next annual report in April 2024 and is planning to formulate a 10-year strategic plan for its Forest Estate Strategic Land Use Plan. One of the key projects in the pipeline is the creation of a “People’s Millennium Forest”. Coillte is currently awaiting legal advice from DAFM before finalizing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) related to the forest initiative.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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