An independent observer of the Forest Stewartship Council

Irish Environmental and Social Groups Unite to Demand Removal of Coillte CertificateTags: Ireland, Certifier conflict of interest, Complaints procedures, Plantations, Soil Association Woodmark

The following was submitted by the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance


Embargo until: 00.01am Monday the 27th of November 2006

An alliance of environmental and social groups from Ireland today sent a detailed and powerful rebuttal of the environmental certification of Coillte, Ireland's largest forestry company, to the Lord Peter Melchett and the Board of the Soil Association, who are responsible for the certificate.

In the rebuttal, the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders' Alliance (IESS) slams Irish state forestry company Coillte's record on the environment and social issues. IESS have now called on the Soil Association to immediately revoke Coillte's 'environment-friendly' certificate, which was issued in August this year.

The move follows hot on the tail of a detailed examination of Coillte's record over the last five years by IESS which shatters any remaining illusion of the state-owned company as environmentally, socially or economically sustainable.

The IESS alliance identified multiple infringements of Irish and EU laws and directives, failures to meet biodiversity targets, massive over-use of toxic chemicals, blatant disregard for local community and worker interests and concerns, and chaotic management practices.

Many of these issues should have automatically prevented the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) "eco-label" award.

Highlighting "kills of an internationally protected species, and levels of chemical fertiliser use that have made experts blanche," an IESS spokesperson continued, "The conclusions are clear, and they are damning."

The Soil Association, who issued the FSC certificate, also came in for severe criticism. Contracted to act as independent auditors of Coillte's activities, "they side-stepped their own standards, issued the certificate, and got handsomely paid for their trouble."

Bizarrely, when asked if the IESS findings raised any concerns in the Soil Association, the group's Policy Director, Lord Peter Melchett, could only respond, "I don't know."

The IESS analysis demonstrates that Coillte:

  • Ignores international best-practice

  • Uses enormous quantities of toxic, environmentally damaging chemicals

  • Fails to meet broadleaf planting targets

  • Repeatedly sells state land regardless of local interests

  • Ruins fragile mountain and bog eco-systems

  • Ignores the concerns of its own forestry workers, unions and local communities

Coillte have also attracted international environmental attention, cited recently as one of thirteen global plantations "worst offenders" by the World Rainforest Movement, which includes operations from Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia.

Based on the latest findings, IESS have now repeated their call on the Soil Association to revoke the Coillte certificate. "There is a huge gulf between Coillte's forestry methods and the standards Soil Association promote. We're demanding that SA show those standards are not just empty words."


For verification and comment, please contact:

Stiof MacAmhailghaidh - .net

The Original list of breaches of the FSC Principles and Criteria by Coillte is available on this site here .

The Soil Assocation's response is available here.

The full new critique of Coillte and response to the Soil Association is available for download here:



Please see related link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/80956

Coillte / State try to take farners land
cork | rights and freedoms | news report Monday December 11, 2006 18:31 by walter

Coillte in breach of FSC certificate
The following is an account of Coillte/State arrogance and bullying which takes some beating.

For the purpose of this account, I shall refer to the present landowner as “ the farmer”.

The farmer owns 7 acres of land in the middle of a Coillte wood at Goulacullin, Dunmanway, Co. Cork. (Folio No: 60953)

This 7 acres was originally taken, by “mistake”, from the previous owner by Coillte in the early seventies. The original owner confronted Coillte about this, and Coillte subsequently gave it back to him. Coillte constructed a track in or about 1973, from the public road through these 7 acres, and on to other Coillte land beyond the 7 acres, in the early seventies. The original owner has used this track to get to his land ever since, without objection or interference.

In October 2005, Coillte took the farmer to Court in an attempt to get the 7 acres off him. It must be stated that a Solicitor asked Coillte, in 1996, if they owned the 7 acres. Coillte replied (letter of proof available), and said that they “ don’t own it, nor could they grant a right of way over it.”

Coillte were unsuccessful in their attempt to rob the farmer of his land. However, as the Judge was about to leave the Court, Coillte’s barrister asked if they could “deny the farmer access to his land.” The judge granted their request, denied the farmer access to his land, and denied him an appeal.

Coillte then placed a lock on the barrier at the public road at the start of the track going to the farmer’s land.

This farmer is now landlocked because Coillte didn’t get their way in robbing him of his land, assisted by the Judiciary! Is this corruption or what!!
Coillte are clearly in breach of their FSC cert.

Please lend you support to this man by contacting your local TD, or email the Minister at: mary.wallace@oireachtas.ie

Your help is greatly appreciated.

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