Policy published in November 2010.
Ireland’s western Atlantic seaboard location, with its mild winters and good rainfall combine to make Ireland an ideal location to have a thriving sustainable wood economy. In former times the abundant harvest from Ireland’s great forests was legendary. This forest resource ensured the basics of good quality food, shelter and water which underpinned the economy of Ireland from the Neolithic period to the early middle ages, and allowed the development of societies which had sufficient leisure to achieve the high cultural levels which were recognised internationally then and now. In the future this sustainable wood economy could incorporate timber and non-timber benefits with huge advantages for biodiversity enhancement, ecosystem services, water quality, soil and air protection, eco-tourism, human well-being, carbon sequestration, alternative energy production, climate change adaptation and large scale employment opportunities. In fact one of the major starting points for a smart green sustainable economy is the wise use and management of our trees.
We face the mounting challenges of climate change, energy security, maintenance of biological diversity, and a severe economic downturn. In this context the Environmental Pillar calls for the reappraisal of the current forestry model and the adoption and implementation of a more beneficial Forestry/Tree-Cover model that better reflects the range of social, environmental, and economic policy needs. Such forestry would be sustainably managed in accordance with the Rio Declaration1. This Declaration proposed a set of forest principles and attached these to Agenda 212.
Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. These needs are for forest products and services, such as wood and wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel, shelter, employment, recreation, habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, carbon sinks and reservoirs, and for other forest products. Appropriate measures should be taken to protect forests against harmful effects of pollution, including airborne pollution, pests and diseases, in order to maintain their full multiple value. (From Forest Principles, Agenda 21, Principle 1(b))
To date this comprehensive definition of SFM (Sustainable Forest Management)3 has not been fully understood or applied in Ireland. An out-dated policy of sustainable yield of single species timber, coupled with the primacy of profit is still the main driver of forestry policy. The Environmental Pillar believes that diversification of Irish Forestry is urgently required in order to sustain the sector through times of economic change, to ensure resilience of the resource through future climatic changes, and to maximise benefits to society, the economy and environment.. Ireland has already signed up to the implementation of SFM, and the Environmental Pillar is calling for its full implementation in Ireland.
Download the Environmental Pillar Tree Cover Policy Nov 2010