The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) welcomes the comments from Tánaiste Micheál Martin, and which were reported in today’s Irish Independent newspaper (24/1/23), that the State “must purchase land for native woodlands and for simple rewilding at its most basic because the biodiversity challenge is so crucial”. His comments come amid recent controversy surrounding the decision by State-owned forester Coillte to work with a private investment fund to create more plantations of non-native conifers.
The IWT believes that we cannot leave it to private, for-profit interests to address the climate and biodiversity crisis and that changes to land use can only deliver long-term benefits if they have the support of local communities. This means using public money to buy land for the creation of new nature reserves or the expansion of national parks. Local communities could then be empowered to help manage these areas for their ecological, educational and amenity benefits.
The IWT will take part in a protest at the Dáil this Thursday in relation to forestry. Despite the Dáil calling for a “fundamental change” to our approach to forests in October 2019, and the Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action calling for a “transition away from the practice of monocultural forestry” in November 2022, the latest draft of the Forest Strategy and €1.3 billion Implementation Plan indicates that the majority of new forests will be dominated by single-species stands of trees, particularly Sitka spruce. These are bad for climate, bad for biodiversity and water and are bad for the communities that are forced to live with them.
We need to move to a system where forest establishment is based upon natural regeneration, where native forests are at least as much a priority as commercial timber production, and where forests for commercial production are based upon a diversity of species, ages and a ‘continuous cover’ of trees.
The ‘Save Our Forests, Save Our Land’ protest will take place from 12:30pm outside the Dáil on Kildare Street this Thursday, January 26th.
CONTACT: Padraic Fogarty IWT Campaigns Officer firstname.lastname@example.org