Forest Owners Co Operative Launch


A group established by a number of independent forest owners, in the South of the Country, looks set for major expansion following the announcement of the launch of the Forest Owners Co-op at an event to be held in Macroom on Friday 9th May. The group was formed in 2006 with the assistance of Teagasc in response to a desire by forest owners to maximise the benefits from their properties.

According to Chairman Tim McCarthy there are now over 340,000 hectares of privately owned forest in Ireland. That is almost as much as the entire estate of Coillte Teoranta, the state owned forestry company. However, with an estimated 16,000  owners , the small plantation size and the dispersed nature of private forests mean that in isolation they do not offer economies of scale for forest operations such as timber harvesting. Furthermore, because timber from private lots comes to the market in an ad-hoc and unpredictable way there is little incentive for the timber industry to invest in the harvesting infrastructure required to make many of these plantations economically viable. A major opportunity is being lost by both private forest owners and the timber processing industry.

After extensive work the group concluded in 2013 that the most effective way of meeting the needs of its members was to form a Co-Operative Society with the assistance of ICOS. This means that, as well as having a legal entity that can engage with other industry players, members can have a real input into the operation and direction of the group.

Since the Co-op was formed, almost all members’ forests have been visited and individual forest assessment reports are being prepared. These will be consolidated into one Forest Management plan with harvesting and other operations being scheduled well in advance of being required. The Co-op is also working on getting all members covered by a group Chain of Custody scheme (FSC/PEFC) which is becoming increasingly important in the timber industry. This would be impossible for most forest owners to do isolation.

The Co-op is also in discussion with insurers who are keen to offer more competitive insurance cover to Forest Co-op members.

Tim McCarthy emphasises that, though a lot has been done, there is still plenty of work required to bring the Co-op to its full potential. Membership is open to owners of forests of any age or size. Both he and the other Co-op directors are keen to grow the organisation to a level where it can be a real force in the Forest industry and support its own directly employed staff.

There is an open invitation to all private Forest Owners to attend the launch which takes place in the Castle Hotel in Macroom on Friday 9th of May at 8.00pm. The launch will be attended by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility. for Forestry Mr. Tom Hayes

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9 May 2014: Launch of the Forest Owners Co-operative Society Ltd. in Macroom, Co Cork.

(From left to right): John Casey, Teagasc; Tim McCarthy, chairman of Forest Owner Co-op Society Ltd.; Minister of State Tom Hayes, DAFM; Eugene Curran, Forest Service; Seán Myers, ICOS; Niall Grainger, director of GP Wood