Forestry policy is flawed, group says


Irish forestry policy is flawed because of over-reliance on the Sitka spruce which is breaching international agreements designed to ensure biodiversity, according to the Voice environmental group.

It has initiated a postcard campaign which calls for a new target of 60 per cent native broadleaf forest cover to be achieved by 2035. Both the State forestry company, Coillte, and the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources strongly denied Ireland was not meeting its UN Convention on Biological Diversity obligations.

In the first postcard, which was sent to the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Dr Woods, Voice claims 60 per cent of trees to be planted in Ireland up to 2035 would be of one non-native species and "by promoting the planting of near-monocultures of Sitka spruce, the Government is breaching international agreements to protect and promote native biodiversity". A Department spokesman said the National Plan unequivocally advocates species diversity with due regard to site suitability.

Forestry development was always carried out in close consultation with local authorities and Bord Failte where tourism issues arose, he said. Obviously, he added, there was a reliance on the Sitka spruce to make the industry commercially viable and support some 16,000 jobs.