COFORD - the Programme of Competitive Forestry Research for Development (formerly National Council for Forest Research and Development) - is based in the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
COFORD was established in 1993 and its current programme is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan.
COFORD is responsible for the development of national forest research and development policy and priorities, the formulation and implementation of programmes that address these priorities, and transferring the knowledge generated into practice.
COFORD's mission is to:
- establish and strengthen links between research and industry;
- determine forest research and development needs to maintain international competitiveness, provide sustainable employment, encourage innovation and enhance environmental harmony;
- evaluate research and development progress and transfer technology to ensure maximum benefit.
COFORD's current programme objectives are to:
- improve the share of home-grown wood products in the local and export markets and developing innovative wood products and conversion technologies in line with market requirements and quality systems;
- improve the cost competitiveness and underpinning the economic and environmental sustainability of the forest industry through the investigation of silvicultural techniques, wood harvesting and transport systems, forest health and vitality, and environmental interactions of forests and forest operations;
- determine the impacts of the afforestation programme on rural development, community stability and the national economy; investigate and develop forest products that have a local use and application;
- develop silvicultural systems, harvesting techniques and information and communications technology appropriate to farm forestry, to foster rural development and environmental compliance;
- investigate and develop the genetic resource of indigenous and exotic tree species to ensure that forest plantations are diverse ecosystems;
- develop cost-effective plant production and handling techniques in line with best environmental practice.
COFORD develops projects and studies to address these programme objectives through applied and strategic research and development programmes.
The COFORD Council is a representative body of the forestry sector, appointed by the Minister of State for Forestry to decide R&D policy and priorities, oversee annual budgets and spending, and provide direction to the executive. The members of the COFORD Executive are appointed to implement and administer the programme on behalf of the Council.