Forestry

FIE has asked the Forest Stewardship Council's Accreditation Services International to sanction FSC Auditors and suspend the certification of Coillte Teo.'s 345,644 hectares of plantation forestry on the basis of the major failings of the 2007 Audit of their forestry practices.

Three key issues were ruled outside their jurisdiction, favouring commercial considerations over environmental damage - ignoring the issue of carbon cycles when 84% of Irish forestry 1990 -2000 was on peat soils - and failing to meet the national broadleaf target of 30%.

The audit reveals, but takes no measures to end, the practice of determining the percentage of broadleaves planted by the number of stems rather than the standard practice of area planted (resulting in a false comparison with conifers), the felling of trees marked for retention during clearfelling in spite of observing the practice. Deteriorating water quality and lack of buffer zones were ignored in spite of the current EU proceedings against Ireland under the Habitats Directive.

The Audit was conducted by the Soil's Associations Woodmark. Coillte was granted a 5 year continuance of its certification in May 2007 as a result.

Read ISSUE 167 of the Forest Network Letter that reveals this in detail.

And the letter to the Forest Stewardship Council's Accreditation Services International seeking suspension of the Certification certificate.



FIE has asked the Forest Stewardship Council's Accreditation Services International to sanction FSC Auditors and suspend the certification of Coillte Teo.'s 345,644 hectares of plantation forestry on the basis of the major failings of the 2007 Audit of their forestry practices.

Three key issues were ruled outside their jurisdiction, favouring commercial considerations over environmental damage - ignoring the issue of carbon cycles when 84% of Irish forestry 1990 -2000 was on peat soils - and failing to meet the national broadleaf target of 30%.

The audit reveals, but takes no measures to end, the practice of determining the percentage of broadleaves planted by the number of stems rather than the standard practice of area planted (resulting in a false comparison with conifers), the felling of trees marked for retention during clearfelling in spite of observing the practice. Deteriorating water quality and lack of buffer zones were ignored in spite of the current EU proceedings against Ireland under the Habitats Directive.

The Audit was conducted by the Soil's Associations Woodmark. Coillte was granted a 5 year continuance of its certification in May 2007 as a result.

Read ISSUE 167 of the Forest Network Letter that reveals this in detail.

And the letter to the Forest Stewardship Council's Accreditation Services International seeking suspension of the Certification certificate.


Huberto Bonafos
Accreditation Services International
Forest Stewardship Council
3 June 2007
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Re: Woodmark Public Certification Report [SA-FM/COC-0706].


Dear Mr. Bonafos;

We understand that FSC's Accreditation Services International is in the process of producing its report on the recent annual inspection by Woodmark of Coillte Teo., the Irish State Forestry Board.
We are an independent national Irish environmental non-governmental organisation with an interest in forestry in Ireland, a long-standing member of the Irish Forest Certification Initiative and a member in good standing of the Forest Stewardship Counsel International.

We have reviewed in 'The Forestry Network Newsletter' the recent Woodmark Public Certification Report which formed the basis for a further 5 year's certification of the Company. The report fails to ensure that Coillte Teo, the Irish State Forestry Board, who own and manage 345,644 hectares of plantation forestry, is conforming to the Forest Stewardship's Principles and Criterion. We attach Issue 176 of this Newsletter which is also available on the internet at the address at the end of this letter.

Coillte Teo was formed in 1988, inheriting the State's forest estate. Substantial parts of Ireland's uplands were afforested in the 1950s, 1960s as a social measure to provide employment before our current level of ecological awareness. Many of these sites are on fragile soils. However the Company is continuing to clearfell and reforest these sites against scientific opinion when they are not economically viable and ecological dispensations from the replanting obligation are available.

Problems at clearfell have now led to infringement proceedings under the Habitats Directive [92/43/EEC] being undertaken by the European Commission in relation to forestry on the grounds of poor application of Article 6(3) and (4) of the Directive in relation to role of best scientific knowledge in plan and project decision-making, including

' absence or inadequacy of scientific knowledge to inform decision-making and failure to keep records,
' time at which knowledge is obtained (obtaining of scientific knowledge after a decision has been already been taken),
' overruling or departures from scientific advice.

Some of the key issues that we identify that Woodmark have ruled as outside its jurisdiction are

' the commercial bias of the company in its forestry policy and practices (although this is given as the 'root cause' of stakeholder dissatisfaction)
' the issue of carbon cycles when 84% of Irish forestry 1990 -2000 was on peat soils
' the failure to meet the national broadleaf target of 30%.

Although Woodmark identifies that Coillte uses the number of stems rather than the standard practice of area planted to provide even the inadequate percentages of broadleaves planted (resulting in a false comparison), it does not require that this be corrected. Nor does it require fencing when the Irish Code of Best Forest Practice does.

Woodmark failed to pursue the common practice of the felling of trees marked for retention during clearfelling in spite of observing the practice. They closed complaints relating to deteriorating water quality and lack of buffer zones in spite of best current scientific advice and the current EU proceedings against Ireland under the Habitats Directive.

Of particular importance to stakeholders is access to information. The Auditors demonstrate clear ignorance of two EU Judgements against Ireland identifying Coillte Teo as a public authority with its implications for Access to Information on the Environment [2003/4/EC] (as opposed to the Freedom of Information Act, which does not apply to Coillte Teo.). In spite of these two Judgements Coillte Teo. continues to hold that this Directive does not apply to them and Woodmark supports this contempt of the law when it states 'The Company has demonstrated a commitment to proactively maintaining an awareness of legal issues and responsibilities and has responded positively to non-compliances when identified.'

We ask you take this information into account as you complete your accreditation report on Woodmark. One of the essential components of a credible certification scheme is that there must be some kind of mechanism which enables stakeholders who dispute decisions about certification standards, specific certificates or other matters, to challenge them and seek redress.

We believe, therefore, that we have legitimate expectations that this letter and the Review we attach will be addressed in that context and that you will sanction Woodmark for its failure to identify these critical problems with Coillte Teo. in its April 2007 surveillance report and suspend Coillte's Teo.'s Certificate until these issues are resolved.

Yours, etc.,



Tony Lowes,

Director, Friends of the Irish Environment

Sneem water supply is threatened by the failure of Coillte Teo to adhere to the Forest Service Guidelines on felling.

FIE's illustrated report shows that there are no silt traps and no buffer zones to protect Dromtine Lough. Drains run directly into the mountain streams which enter the Lough and Sneem River, the source of the village's water supply.

Signs have been erected warning the public that a pesticide has been used and "not to gather berries, fruits, or mushrooms". But the run off from the land is going straight into the water supply.

FIE visited the area as part of a survey of environmental consequences arising from clearfelling by Coillte Teo. The full report on the impact of their clearfelling will be published later this month.

Press Release

and The Kerryman's story with the Coillte denials.

Sneem water supply is threatened by the failure of Coillte Teo to adhere to the Forest Service Guidelines on felling.

FIE's illustrated report shows that there are no silt traps and no buffer zones to protect Dromtine Lough. Drains run directly into the mountain streams which enter the Lough and Sneem River, the source of the village's water supply.

Signs have been erected warning the public that a pesticide has been used and "not to gather berries, fruits, or mushrooms". But the run off from the land is going straight into the water supply.

FIE visited the area as part of a survey of environmental consequences arising from clearfelling by Coillte Teo. The full report on the impact of their clearfelling will be published later this month.

Press Release

and The Kerryman's story with the Coillte denials.
The Minister of the Agriculture and Food has asked Coillte Teo., the State Forestry Board, for a 'Strategic Review of their Activities' to assist in determining who will pay back €8.3 million in forestry premiums which were disallowed by the EU. FIE challenged the premiums through the European Court of Auditors in 1998 as the funding was intended to replace income lost by farmers through tree planting. The company had been using the premiums to fund bank loans to purchase more land from farmers. FIE last week issued a solicitor's letter to Coillte threatening legal action unless Coillte reverses its decision to refuse to release information on the cost-benefit analysis of their forestry activities. 'Coillte's profits have been buoyed by substantial land sales. Much of its timber can no longer be economically harvested yet it is still being harvested and replanted under the same system and with the same non-native species. Pursuing non-sustianable forestry is not even making them money', FIE claims. PRESS RELEASE NEARFM podcast: Local Point: Eamonn O' Flanagáin, a retired internal auditor from the Forest Service, gives an extensive interview to Michael FitzGerald for Northside Today on 'how Coillte Teo are defying an EU ruling by refusing to pay back €8m (more than €10.5m including interest & charges) to the Government for illegal subsidies granted to farmers to encourage tree planting.' Listen to the extensive interview!
The Minister of the Agriculture and Food has asked Coillte Teo., the State Forestry Board, for a 'Strategic Review of their Activities' to assist in determining who will pay back €8.3 million in forestry premiums which were disallowed by the EU. FIE challenged the premiums through the European Court of Auditors in 1998 as the funding was intended to replace income lost by farmers through tree planting. The company had been using the premiums to fund bank loans to purchase more land from farmers. FIE last week issued a solicitor's letter to Coillte threatening legal action unless Coillte reverses its decision to refuse to release information on the cost-benefit analysis of their forestry activities. 'Coillte's profits have been buoyed by substantial land sales. Much of its timber can no longer be economically harvested yet it is still being harvested and replanted under the same system and with the same non-native species. Pursuing non-sustianable forestry is not even making them money', FIE claims. PRESS RELEASE NEARFM podcast: Local Point: Eamonn O' Flanagáin, a retired internal auditor from the Forest Service, gives an extensive interview to Michael FitzGerald for Northside Today on 'how Coillte Teo are defying an EU ruling by refusing to pay back €8m (more than €10.5m including interest & charges) to the Government for illegal subsidies granted to farmers to encourage tree planting.' Listen to the extensive interview!
Sneem water supply is threatened by the failure of Coillte Teo to adhere to the Forest Service Guidelines on felling.

The warning comes from the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment, who visited the area as part of a survey of environmental consequences arising from clearfelling by Coillte Teo.

The group claims that Forest Service Guidelines for felling are being 'totally ignored'. 'There are no silt traps. There are no buffer zones to protect the Lough. Drains run directly into the mountain streams which enter the Lough and Sneem River.'

A spokesman said that 'This Lough and the adjacent Sneem River supplies the water for Sneem village and surrounds. Coillte has felled a large area of forestry. Signs have been erected warning the public that a pesticide* has been used and "not to gather berries, fruits, or mushrooms". But the run off from the land is going straight into the water supply.'

The peaty soil washed off from the felling gives a brown colour to the water and an earthy taste which has been previously recorded in the Environmental Protection Agency's Annual Drinking Water Report for the Sneem supply. Chlorination of peaty water can itself result in the formation of the carcinogen, THM' which can cause cancer in humans.

'The Forest Service Felling Guidelines require silt traps and buffer zones which normally protect the local water supplies. In this case the soil has been churned up by heavy machinery and by the felling and runoff is flowing freely into the Lough and River.

The lobby group is due to publish its full report on the impact of clearfelling by Coillte Teo. shortly.

Verification, photographs, and further information:
Caroline Lewis 027-73131 / 087 2176316

*NOTE FOR EDITORS

While Kerry County Council tests the Sneem water supply regularly, it is not tested for cypermethrin, the pesticide being used by Coillte Teo on forestry as it is too expensive to do so. It is a highly hazardous chemical rated 'highly toxic'. The use of cypermethrin was discontinued by salmon farms in 2002 because of the environmental and ecological damage.

Coillte contractors last year refused to plant young trees because of exposure to permethrin in which they had been dipped. The use of this pesticide is approved by the Forest Service, but only where the Guidliens are meticulously followed.

Plants are dipped in cypermethrine to control the pine weevil in conifers. Cypermethrine is synthetic pyrethroids taken from pyrethrum, an extract of dried chrysanthemum. The insecticidal rapidly penetrate many insects and paralyze their nervous system. It is highly toxic to anything that lives in water and to himan beings. Unlike the natural plant, the synthetic version persists for many weeks.

FIE and a number of other environmental organisations have campaigned against a proposed derogation to allow the approval of cypermethrine by the Forest Stewardship Council, which gives Coillte Teo a 'green label'. They are currently awaiting their decision.

The pesticides is also sprayed on old tree stumps and surrounding vegetation at regular intervals. In the past sites were left to fallow for two or more years. This virtually eliminates the pine weevil. The adults live in the forest canopy on shoots without significant economic effect. Following clearfell the pine weevil no longer have their normal food source so they feed on the young plants, causing mortalities leading to economic failure of plantations.

At Dromtine Lough, the planting is taking place immediately after the felling and the only way to protect the young trees is to use pesticides. Coillte have not considered reverting to traditional techniques of vegetative traps for the pine weevil. This is despite the knowledge that this method worked successfully before pesticide use became widespread.

ENDS