Read all about the main forestry issues in more than 170 issues of the Forest Network Newsletter [FNN] from 2002 to 2008. FNN dealt in depth with current forestry issues from the environmental perspective. The issues sadly have not changed.
Irish forestry policy was set by the 1996 Forest Strategy for Ireland which proposed grant aiding 20,000 hectares a year with up to 100% non-native species permitted. The State Forestry Board, Coillte Teo., is required by Statute to give economic factors more weight than environmental and social ones.
Coillte Teo claims to be a private company but it has been twice ruled to be a public authority by the EU Court of Justice and agreed to act as such in realtion to Access to Information on the Environment in a binding 2006 Court Order.
Certification of Coillte Teo’s forestry by the Forest Stewardship Council is the greatest obstacle to changing Ireland’s forestry practices to prevent the ongoing environmental damage. The ‘certificate of good forest management’ has now been renewed until 2011 over strongest protests.
FIE studied 3 clearfelling sites on fragile soils in the south-west of Ireland in 2007. Water poured over and around straw bales intended to trap sediments and flooded onto roads and into watercourses. Deep rutting of heavy machinery left irreparable soil damage reminsicent of battlefield conditions. In one case, even the birches originally planted as a buffer zone were felled.
90% of the fresh water pearl mussels in Ireland have been extinguished through pollution of our rivers. Heavily fertilised forestry on peat soils has been called in Government memos ‘the phosphorus time bomb’ for its inevitable pollution. See the maps of the vanishing mussels.
The Hen harrier, which was once eradicated, has seen its numbers fall in the 2003 proposed Special Protection Areas(SPA) from 134 pairs in 2000 to 105 pairs in 2005. The Parks and Wildlife Service agreed to further SPA reductions and to permit forestry planations within SPAs designed to preserve this bird.In four astonishing maps from 1970 to today, track the loss of this bird.
Will the European Commission allow the entirely inadequate final areas proposed for protection for these endangered species?