State forestry company Coillte has reported after tax profits of €25.8m for last year, an increase of 69% on the €15.3m reported the previous year.

Turnover at the company, which this week announced a joint venture with Bord na Móna, rose by 5% to €275m from €262m in 2012.

Operating profits for the year rose to €41.3m from €35m on the back of increases in overall sales volumes and panel board prices. 

Coillte said the volume of logs sold to Irish sawmills rose by 3% year on year while sales of panel products grew by 5%. It noted that the increased sale of logs reflected increased demand for sawn timber in the UK market, while the higher panel sales was seen mainly in Ireland and continental Europe.

Export sales last year accounted for 59% of Coillte's group turnover and 64% of this figure was sold into the UK market.

During the year, Coillte continued its expansion in the renewable energy sector and secured planning permission for a 33MW wind farm in Cork, as well as "significantly advancing" three other wind farm projects.

The company also manages the country's network of trails, forest parks and recreation sites. 2013 saw the launch of a project in partnership with Cavan County Council, the Cavan Burren Park.

"2013 proved to be a year of two halves for us - the first half of the year was extremely challenging with the UK market exiting slowly from recession, however there was a significant improvement in the second half of the year," said the company's acting chief executive Gerry Britchfield. 

"We are forecasting a significantly improved trading environment across all business areas for 2014 and our ambition is to continue to deliver a strong profit performance for our shareholders. We have seen a good first half of the year to date and are looking forward to delivering on our targets for the full year," he added.

Earlier this month, the Government said it would proceed with the setting up of a joint venture between Coillte and Bord an Móna, which will focus on the areas where the two firms overlap, including wind energy, biomass supply, shares services and green tourism.