The Guardian published a short piece about the FSC certification of Coillte, yesterday in Eco Soundings (30 April 2008).
PHOTO: Wally Menne
The description of Coillte's operations is spot on: "more than a million acres of pesticide-laden, monocultural and exotic Sitka spruce plantations".
Coillte, the Irish state forestry company, has impacted on many a wild Irish bog, mountain and wetland, including from planting in the last few years more than a million acres of pesticide-laden, monocultural and exotic Sitka spruce plantations. What is as dismal as the trees, though, is that this "green desert" was certified by the Soil Association and the Forest Stewardship Council as "sustainable forestry". Now the Irish are revolting. "We call on the Soil Association and FSC to immediately withdraw this abomination of a certificate, and we call on all environmentalists everywhere to help us in our struggle," says a group writing to Eco Soundings and calling itself the Irish Environmental and Social Stakeholders. More at fsc-watch.org
It took many years to persuade the Forestry Commission to be more creatively sympathetic to landscapes previously disfigured by their geometric blocks of exotic conifers with little or no wildlife value.
Having just returned from Connemara, I am aware of how precious are the remaining fragments of native woodland. These should be the starting points for a forestry policy dedicated to indigenous species with high nature conservation value. Perhaps Coillte could confer with their UK counterpart, while in the meantime the FSC and SA ought to reconsider their support in light of the reality of such planting.
Dear All, Thanks Wally for your contribution.
I have been dealing with Coillte Teoranta, the Irish semi-state forestry company, for many years, and one thing I am certain about. They will have to be forced to stop their outrageously destructive use of Sitka spruce and other non native species. They have in effect used their FSC certification, obtained through the backdoor as it were, as a shield to continue destroying the Irish natural environment. The fact is that such forestry commercial operations have the money to influence public opinion, have the connections to influence political bodies and individuals, and have the motivation of profit to do it as a priority.
They obviously have the cooperation, either enthusiastically or tacitly, of the FSC. The only thing environmentalists can do is to preserve their integrity and condemn the whole FSC-supported farce. I for one think that saving such intergrity, and not compromising with this nature-destructive farce, is an absolute minimum for true environmentalists.
Regards, Ray Monahan, Castlegregory
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