European Investment Bank invests €12.5m in sustainable Irish forestry

Funding to support sustainable ‘continuous cover’ forestry projects

An investment of €12.5 million in sustainable Irish forestry has been announced by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that with controversy growing about monoculture and clear felling policies in Ireland it is a welcome support for the more sustainable "continuous cover forestry" projects which would better support biodiversity and landscapes and the challenges associated with climate change.

The funding will go through SLM Partners, a company which invests in Ireland in forestry management and green energy projects.

The money comes from a new €125 million EIB natural capital finance facility (NCFC) which is expected, the bank says, to generate up to €400 million in green investment and conservation. On Monday the EIB also announced €15 million NCFC funding for Croatian green and conservation projects.


Irish EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell said that such investment was “a marriage of best business practice while meeting social and environmental concerns” and would produce “a good financial rate of return because the model of continuous cover forestry produces enduring and stable returns”.

Continuous cover forestry, also known as “close to nature” forestry, replaces traditional clearfelling by felling individual trees or in small groups by cycles so that forest cover is maintained on a permanent basis, with less damage to water sources or soil erosion.

The forests maintained in this way are also claimed to be better resistant to disease and the effects of climate change and more able to sustain biodiverse habitats.

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times