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Tuesday, March 26 2019 @ 11:59 AM UTC

Firm seeks investors for Panama forest

Teak & ReforestationBy Caitrýona McBride: Green Belt manages 160,000 acres of forestry across Ireland and plants more than 10,000 acres of new forests each year. Its customers include Irish farmers and private and institutional investors. Maurice Ryan, managing director of Green Belt, said Panama was chosen for its political stability and climate. ‘‘I spent three years researching this project and Panama was by far the most attractive location in Central America,” he said. ‘‘It’s politically stable, the tropical heat is perfect for teak and land is affordable.” Ryan said teak was one of the most sought-after types of wood in the world because of its natural strength and durability. ‘‘Teak is always popular for furniture and floors and we were searching for years for the right plantation. We had to find a foreign location because Irish land will not sustain teak,” he said. Green Belt is looking for investors willing to put up at least €50,000 each. ‘‘That is the least amount that you would need to make it worth your while,” said Ryan. ‘‘This would plant six hectares for the investor, which we then manage.” The company promises a return to investors of more than 12 per cent per annum over the 18-year investment period. Ryan said some people were investing money in the scheme as a pension fund. (Editor's Comment: At today's exchange rate, 50k Euros is $63,229.99 for six hectares of teak. That works out to about $0.95 cents a meter and might not be a bad deal IF you get a title and IF you get a reforestation visa with this investment and IF these guys are a legitimate operation. In other words, if you get six hectares of titled land and a visa for your money then it might not be a bad deal even without the trees. But there have been other companies out there selling teak investment schemes that have turned out to be just scams. The government of Panama, in order to protect its own borders, should establish some kind of internationally recognized permit or authorization to sell anything related to teak in this country. At least that would go a long way to help potential investors sort out the scams from the legitimate operations as well as certify the lumber for the international market when its eventually harvested. I know growers have to register the plantations in order to qualify for the tax incentives but that protects the government of Panama, not the end investor. I just hope that two years from now we're not hearing more wailing suckers. dkw)

‘‘We have mainly private investors in this project and found that some were using it as a pension for themselves or to leave to their children,” he said. The investors will have full legal title to the land. Green Belt has no plans to invest elsewhere in Central America.

‘‘Panama is the safest one, the surest one and the one we know most about,” he said.

The company plans to plant more than 4,000 acres in Panama by next year.

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