GRESHAM House Asset Management (GHAM) has been appointed by AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets (AXA IM – Real Assets) as the exclusive asset manager to a 4,074-hectare portfolio of mature Irish forests on a long-term contract.

GHAM said it is committed to bringing stability and sustainability to these important assets which will continue to provide social and environmental benefits to the Irish economy, and mark Irish forestry’s transition into a large-scale commercial sector.

The portfolio is divided across 185 estates. Comprising one of Europe’s fastest-growing wood types and the most valuable commercial conifer species in Ireland and the UK, it benefits from good local infrastructure and close proximity to sawmills.

The appointment of GHAM follows the acquisition of the portfolio of mature Irish forests by AXA IM – Real Assets, acting on behalf of clients, for an undisclosed sum, from Veon Limited, the forestry consultancy, which is being retained to provide forestry management services.

GHAM’s Managing Director of Forestry, Olly Hughes, said: “Environmental, social and governance concerns are becoming increasingly important for investors. Not only is forestry renewable and satisfies ESG criteria, it is also a portfolio diversifier and delivers excellent returns being uncorrelated to stock markets, protected against inflation and possessing significant tax advantages.”