Main points of the Irish Green Party Forestry policy (2013-16):
- To promote a graduated adoption to Close to Nature-Continuous Cover permanent forestry silvicultural systems and management (without clear felling), thus (i) ultimately creating permanent biodiverse forests containing trees of all ages, (ii) providing a more sustainable flow of products once the system is in place and (iii) maintaining the “capital” of mature and diverse forests to resist the threat and risks associated with climate change, such as new pests and diseases.
- The planting of 10,000 ha (preferably 15,000 ha– double what was planted in 2011) trees per annum until 2035, of which broadleaves should be well over the 38% planted in 2010. 15,000 ha would give 490 direct sustainable jobs per year, plus downstream employment, mostly in rural areas. (This would still leave Ireland with well below the European average of 43% forestry cover.)
- The retention of hedgerows and their enhancement with appropriate species.
- The planting of protection forests bordering rivers and lakes to protect water quality and assist in managing flood risks.
The protection of heritage and amenity trees, including by improved legislation.
Update May 12, 2013: thanks to Green members who nominated me for ‘Green of the Week’ for my work on forest policy and recent end ecocide work. Really delighted – thanks everyone for all the support!
Yesterday I was at the Irish Forestry Woodland & BioEnergy show to launch the Greens Forest policy with Jan Alexander, Crann founder and former Chair of ProSilva Ireland (key European NGO on continuous cover, non clearfell forest management); and Alan Price, Chair of Carlow Kilkenny Greens. See the press release here Greens Forest Policy Launched
My comments from the press release:
The Green Party’s forest spokesperson, Cathy Fitzgerald, commented: “While there has been much concern across many sectors of Ireland against the government’s proposed sale of Ireland’s public forest harvesting (clearfelling) rights, we must also envision the forests we want for this country. Its timely and urgent that Ireland recognise the potential value and environmental necessity of new continuous cover forestry to improve economic returns, provide more environmentally diverse and resilient forests and and improve forest amenity benefits over the long term. To develop Irish Forests we must follow other leading European forest nations and move away from outdated, costly and environmentally deficient, clearfell plantation management systems”.
I have been working on this policy since 2010 with Green Members and supporters; former minister Trevor Sargent, Stiofan Nutty, John Brownlee, Una Ruddock, Ken Doyle, Daragh Little and others. It is a comprehensive 10 page document developed over three years in consultation with many Irish forest stakeholders, organisations, individuals and leading European Continuous Cover forest experts.
Jan Alexander has been instrumental over many years in bringing new ideas to Irish forestry. In recent years she has been highlighting key practices and long term integrated sustainable forest policy of the European federation of Close-to-Nature continuous cover forest experts of ProSilva Europe, through her work with ProSilva Ireland (established in 2000).
Alan Price and I have long worked in local Green politics. We’re both former microbiologists and have strong interests since in rural, local sustainable development. My work on transforming my 2.5 acre conifer plantation to a continuous cover forest has been highly influenced by Jan and my own involvement in ProSilva Ireland. My previous experience in politics meant I knew we had to get these ideas into the political and wider public domains too. I’m also delighted from my own background in science research that my own forest transformation project is part of the Irish COFORD (government forest) research project that is building an important database of the over 300 sites across Ireland that are being transformed to continuous cover, permanent, non clearfell forestry management (many of which are Coillte sites).
Forest practice on the ground, forest research, and policy with key input from European countries, many which have developed methods of continuous cover, close-to-nature forest management over four generations, all combine to give a deeply sustainable vision for Ireland’s forests. To further develop strategic and integrated economic, environmental, and heritage benefits of Irish forests for the long term.
I have put a slideshow up of the launch as there was so many great activities, exhibitions, talks at the Irish Forestry Woodland show here – it was a great day to observe, take part in Ireland’s returning and developing forest culture.
- Lessons from Irish forests: continuous cover forest study days (ecoartfilm.com)
- Beginnings: transforming Irish conifer plantation to a continuous cover forest since 2008 (ecoartfilm.com)
- What does he plant who plants a tree? we need permanent, non clearfell forests in Ireland (ecoartfilm.com)
- Moving toward deep sustainability: people gathering for Ireland’s forests this weekend (ecoartfilm.com)
- Public access to forests raised as part of growing opposition to sale of Coillte rights (irishtimes.com)