Date Posted: 01.07.2016
Mr. Andrew Doyle, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, highlighted the importance and value of forest certification in his opening address to the National Conference on Forest Management Certification in Ireland, in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, earlier today.
The theme of the conference, hosted by Sustainable Forest Management Ireland (SFMI), was 'Forest Management Certification for the Private Grower in Ireland'. The Agenda for the Conference included presentations on the way in which certification works and the need for it from the perspective of processors and the international market. Forest certification systems are designed to verify that forests are managed according to the principles of sustainable forest management. Sustainable forest management is recognised as essential in order to maintain the productivity, biodiversity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential of a forest.
In his opening address to the Conference, Minister of State Doyle noted the warning in the recent COFORD Report, 'Mobilising Ireland's forest resource', that 'as the level of supply from the private sector increases, the lack of certification is likely to become a barrier to wood mobilisation'.
In relation to forest certification, the Minister of State commented, "All stages of forest management require careful planning and consideration. All these activities, from preparing a site right through to replanting after clearfell must be done in accordance with Best Forest Practice and environmental guidelines, all of which are well documented. Certification provides the mechanism for proving that these high standards have been applied. It provides the evidence supported by a formal internationally recognised process to show that forest operations have indeed been carried out to the required standards."
He expressed the view that [certification] "represents a sound approach to forest management that combines the highest environmental standards with practices that will maximise the financial return to forest owners from their investment. Furthermore, it protects this investment by ensuring that the timber that ultimately will be produced will have access to the market in the years to come" and added, "the time is approaching whereby private growers will recognise the economic necessity of such certification. The question for private forest owners may not be the additional income to be earned from certified timber but rather whether the market has the capacity to take and use the timber if it is not certified".
Referring to an initiative by his Department, Minister of State outlined that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is "preparing to advertise for services to develop a group certification template for private forest owners. The North East Forestry Group and the Forestry Owners Cooperative Society are both taking part in a pilot project in which the template will be road tested and two certification groups for private forest owners will be established. This project will lay the groundwork for future groups to emerge and will provide the tools for owners and forestry professionals to navigate their way through a forest certification process".
He concluded by encouraging the attendance to make the most of the discussion at the Conference, "to consider the information presented, ask questions, establish contacts and then look into the issue of certification for your own forestry plantations". He also thanked Sustainable Forest Management Ireland, and Teagasc, for their work in organising the Conference.