Forestry

FIE wrote to the Forest Service to ask why lime trees more than 100 feet from a building were felled without a licence. FIE also requested that mature trees which form an integral part of this 19th century historic landscape are given full protection.


Forest Service

Felling Section

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  02 March 2009 

To whom it may concern; 

We refer to the recent felling of lime trees at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club that commenced on the 19th February 2009. On foot of telephone calls from angry members of the public, we examined the felling which has recently taken place of the heritage trees which formed part of a 19th century planned landscape on the shores of Lough Lein, (Lough Leane) Killarney, one of the major tourist attractions in Ireland.  

We were advised by the parties that the Forest Service Inspector had given permission of the felling of these trees stating that that the trees were within 100 feet of the building and were therefore exempt from the Felling License requirements. 

According to our measurements taken on Saturday 21 February, 2009, the 100 foot zone does not include all of the trees concerned and it would appear therefore that this felling breached the provisions of the Forestry Act 1946, and may indeed have committed a criminal act. We telephoned the Forest Inspector - Kieran Nugant – and left a message on his answering service asking him if he could clarify this discrepancy.

To date we have received no response. Could you please inform us of any proposed action for this wanton arbo-cultural and historic cultural vandalism and assure us that this 19th century planned landscape, of which mature tees form an integral part, will be protected. 

Yours sincerely  

Caroline Lewis

 

Dubbed by Michael Viney in the Irish Times as 'generally hostile and unforgiving, but often revelatory', this FNN begins by revealing how Ireland is avoiding an SEA for forestry which could lay the groundwork for a sustainable national forestry policy. But the legal exemption from SEA in Irish law only applied while forestry was EU funded - which is no longer the case. Has the loophole become a noose?

This issue also covers the Irish FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] certification debacle; the recent contractors' protest at the Irish Natural Forestry Foundation's Cork conference (which is also covered with links to the pod casts of the presentations); the legal status of Coillte; and how they misled Ireland's Minister by claiming the UK pesticides authority had approved the cocktail of insecticide and adhesive they now apply to the seedlings at their nurseries and export to the UK; - and an obituary for Crann, the self styled 'leading Irish tree organisation' which has been awarded €5000 from the plastic bag levy fund to help it 'merge' and 'rebrand' with another organisation.

Read the archived html Newsletter    |   or click on // Read More // for the text only version.


A summary of EU and Irish case law releating to the status of Coillte Teo.


EU LAW

Competition Directive C-353/96

Coillte Teo.'s claim to be a 'private law entity' was clearly rejected in a Judgment under the Competitions Directive in Case C-353/96 Commission v Ireland and Connemmara Machine Turf on 17 December 1997. Coillte Teoranta as a 'contracting authority' within the meaning of the legislation on public supply contracts (Directive 77/62/EEC).

 

Afforestation aid C-339/00

‘In the present case, Ireland itself has stated that Coillte Teoranta is and always has been a public undertaking wholly owned by the State. Moreover, the Court has already held in Connemara Machine Turf and Commission v Ireland that that company was controlled by the State and no new evidence has been adduced which might show that this was no longer the case in the financial years 1997 and 1998. Neither the company's obligation to manage its affairs on a commercial basis nor the fact, alleged by Ireland, that the State does not, in practice, intervene in the company's management can prevail over the finding that the company is wholly owned and controlled by the State and that the State could therefore intervene. It follows that Coillte Teoranta is not a private-law legal person for the purposes of Article 2(2)(b) of Regulation No 2080/92.

 

Irish Law - Access to Information on the Environment

In January 2005 an Order of the High Court was issued in which Coillte Teo voluntarily agreed to be bound by the Directive and its Irish implementing Regulations:

This is the wording of the Court Order:

'That, without prejudice to its contention that the Respondent is not a public authority for the purposes of Statutory Instrument 125 of 1998 European Communities Act 1972 (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 1998 ("S.I. 125/98") and without prejudice to its contention that the Respondent is not covered by the provisions of S.I. 125/98, the Respondent undertakes to fully comply with the provisions of S.I. 125/98 on a voluntary basis, and will be bound entirely by the provisions of S.I. 125/98 in such voluntary compliance and will be correspondingly entitled to avail of all exceptions to the provisions of SI 125/98 as contained therein.'


From the Irish Information Commissioner

In her Report, the Commissioner is critical of the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources and of Coillte Teoranta in relation to their conduct during the course of a review . The Department is criticised for failing to provide her with copies of relevant records pending the receipt of the Attorney General's advice on the matter. This occurred notwithstanding the provisions of section 37 of the FOI Act which entitles the Commissioner to require the provision, from any person, of relevant information or records.

The Commissioner considers that the Department should have been well aware, without having to seek the advice of the Attorney General, of her powers under the FOI Act and of its obligation to assist her. However, she considered Coillte's conduct to be particularly unacceptable. In a submission purporting to clarify its legal status in order to support its objection to the release of relevant records (held by the Department), Coillte claimed to be a private limited company that was not under the control of any Government department. Coillte's submission made no mention whatsoever of the binding judgment of the European Court of Justice in which Coillte's view of its status as a private company was rejected.

The Commissioner has described Coillte's failure to include in its submission any reference to the Court's ruling on its status as "unfortunate at best"

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http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/MediaandSpeeches/PressReleases/2006/Name,5147,en.htm

 

The lie lives on

The current Coilte website states in ‘Coillte’s History’ that ‘the Government decided to set up Coillte Teoranta as a private limited company to manage State owned forests commercially.’ 

It concludes: 

‘When Coillte was established in 1989 we acquired ownership of the State's forests in return for shares valued at IR£575 million (€730 million). Since then we have developed from a company which only managed forests into a more broadly based company operating in forestry, land based businesses, renewable energy and panel products.’ 

Who acquired what from whom? And who owns what? 

The 1988 Forestry Act states: 

'The authorised share capital of the company shall be £1 billion or such other amount as may be approved from time to time by the Minister for Finance, after consultation with the Minister, divided into shares of one pound each.' 

17.—(1) The company shall issue shares to the Minister for Finance to the value of the property transferred to it on the vesting day in accordance with sections 39 and 40, and each share shall carry one vote. [GA] 

(2) The Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance and following consultation with the company, shall issue as soon as possible after the vesting day a certificate certifying the sum which in his opinion represents the value of the property transferred to the company. 

[GA]  (3) The company, after receipt of the certificate, shall issue to the Minister for Finance, without payment by him, fully paid-up shares of the company equal in nominal value to the sum so certified.

http://www.coillte.ie/about_coillte/coillte_s_history/ 

Downloaded 3 November, 2008  

 

 

FIE is supporting a small group of forestry contractors who are protesting today outside a Cork Forestry Conference today. The protestors are calling for a halt to the ongoing felling on a plantation in the Ballyhoura Mountains in North Cork until proper protection is put in to stop the environmental damage.

Extensive felling is taking oplace at a site within the Awbeg River catchment, a tributary of the Blackwater. The damage to the soil through rutting and erosion is in open defiance of the Forestry Guidelines.

The area is designated for protection as a Natura 2000 site and is a breeding ground for otters and supports a significant population of Atlantic salmon. The river also supports a population of White-clawed Crayfish, a threatened species.

FIE has issued a Press Release saying that ‘We don't need more forestry conferences and more experts - we need to stop the damage.

Press Release  |  Photographs


The Irish environmental NGO Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] and the UK Friends of the Earth [FoE] have withdrawn their support for the forestry certification schemes run by the international Forestry Stewardship Council [FSC].

FIE and FoE UK say they ‘can not support a scheme which fails to guarantee high environmental and social standards.'

Ireland's leading timber producer, Coillte Teo, was certified in 2001 by FSC International but FIE says the company's specific legal requirement under the 1989 Forestry Act to place economic considerations above environmental and social requirements mean that they can not meet basic environmental and social standards.

A spokesman for FIE said ‘it is important that the public have confidence in green labels. It's the job of environmental organisations to speak out when they see them being abused'.

FIE certification pages

FoE UK certification pages

 


PRESS RELEASE 24 SEPTEMBER 2008

SUPPORT WITHDRAWN FROM FORESTRY CERTIFICATION SCHEME

The Irish environmental NGO Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] and the UK Friends of the Earth [FoE] have withdrawn their support for the forestry certification schemes run by the international Forestry Stewardship Council [FSC].

FIE says that like FoE UK, they ‘can not support a scheme which fails to guarantee high environmental and social standards.'

FoE UK is the first major NGO to confirm they no longer support FSC which has become increasingly controversial in many countries. FIE was one of 5 Irish environmental panel members of the international organisation. The others are the statutory Heritage Council and the NGOs An Taisce, Just Forests, and Voice.

The scheme ensures that the timber purchased by the consumer has been grown in an environmentally sustainable manner.

FoE UK says that an increasing number of FSC certifications schemes are now controversial and that there are ‘wide spread questions about their credibility' in many countries.

Ireland's leading timber producer, Coillte Teo, was certified in 2001 by FSC International but FIE says the company's specific legal requirement under the 1989 Forestry Act to place economicl considerations above environmental and social requirements mean that they can not meet basic environmental and social standards.

FIE says that it has filed formal complaints from 2003 - 2008 to the international certification body and met with its auditors but has had no satisfactory response. FIE was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Irish Forestry Certification Initiative which has been unable to agree an Irish Standard for certification since its establishment in 1999.

A spokesman for FIE said ‘it is important that the public have confidence in green labels. It's the job of environmental organisations to speak out when they see them being abused'.

‘We must end industrial plantation forestry on our fragile habitats, particularly peat soils and uplands. Irish forestry must follow international best practices it if is to be certified ‘green'.

Verification and further information: Tony Lowes 027 73131 / 087 2176316

Friends of the Earth UK
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/faqs/sustainable_timber_fsc.html

Friends of the Irish Environment forestry certification information
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/forestry/certification/forestry_certification.htm