Continuous Cover Forests Key in Green Party’s New Forest Policy
The Green Party has launched its Forest policy, a comprehensive 10 page document with input from forest stakeholders across the country and Europe, at the 2013 Irish Forestry Woodland and Bio Energy show, Stradbally.
The key recommendation of the Green Party Forest policy, is that Ireland’s public forests are at a point where, non clearfell, continuous cover forest systems need to be introduced and supported to fully realise the full long term economic, environmental and amenity values of Ireland’s forests.
The policy also recognises the considerable achievements of past government policies, incentives and industry development that has established forests on 11% land in just a few decades.
Jan Alexander, Crann Founder and recent chair of ProSilva Ireland today welcomed the Green Party Forest Policy:
“I am very pleased to see the Greens Forest Policy has been developed with many different forest stakeholders, including European foresters with vast experience in managing forests in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner using Close-to-Nature continuous cover forest management systems. Also I specifically welcome the move away from clearfell systems which are so detrimental to the goals of long term sustainable forestry.”
In addition to achieve a fully sustainable industry, afforestation rates need to improve to reach a 17% forest cover target by 2030 (as Ireland is still well below the European average of 43% cover) and support for the sector continued.
The Green Party’s forest spokesperson, Cathy Fitzgerald, commented: “While there has been much concern across many sectors of Ireland against the government’s proposed sale of Ireland’s public forest harvesting (clearfelling) rights, we must also envision the forests we want for this country. Its timely and urgent that Ireland recognise the potential value and environmental necessity of new continuous cover forestry to improve economic returns, provide more environmentally diverse and resilient forests and and improve forest amenity benefits over the long term. To develop Irish Forests we must follow other leading European forest nations and move away from outdated, costly and environmentally deficient, clearfell plantation management systems”.
Forests in Ireland will also have an increasingly important role in climate mitigation, biodiversity, tourism, local employment and local enterprise, and will play a key role in developing Ireland’s energy security. The relatively young industry now provides over 1% of GDP and employs over 16 000 people (December 2010 figures), mostly in rural areas. Forests also have an immense role in regards to mitigating climate change and provide numerous ecological and amenity services.
Trees and forests store carbon, clean the air, mitigate water movements, prevent soil erosion, provide habitats for flora and fauna, provide amenity for the public (18 million visits to Irish forests per year). Most of these services have not been valued but in the case of Carbon Capture, Irish forests planted since 1990 store 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, at the same time saving the Irish tax payer €44 million per annum in Kyoto penalties alone.
On the launch of this document the Green Party is publishing innovative and progressive policy to further develop strategic and integrated economic, environmental, and heritage benefits of Irish forests for the long term.
Images from the launch are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegreenparty/
Green Party Forest Policy available here: http://www.greenparty.ie/assets/docs/GreenParty%20Forestry%20Policy%202012.pdf
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