Forestry

Dear Ms. McGrath;

We wish to initiate the grievance procedure in relation to the Consultation Process for the current draft of the IFCI Standard.

These are the grounds of our Grievance.
1. The public consultation meetings did not permit the recording or require regard to any issues raised verbally during the 'consultation' sessions as it has been made clear that only written submissions will be considered. (See website: 'All interested parties are invited to contribute their views, however, only written submissions will be considered.') This renders the public consultation meaningless.

2. €40,000 is available to IFCI for the consultation process and IFCI's Secretary, Chairman, or Brian Tobin were unable to format the Standard and this work had to be done on a voluntary basis by the FIE representative. Overall, the financial burden of this process is falling on the NGO stakeholders who have no resources to do any additional work in making the required written submissions, attending meetings, etc.

3. The Public Consultation was not advertised with sufficient public notice. Friends of the Irish Environment were notified after the Dublin meeting (on the day of the Portlaoise meeting) and so unable to alert its network in that area.

4. No notice was received by many of the key stakeholders who have complained of their exclusion from the process to date, i.e. the Woodland League, in spite of FSC's recent accreditation conditions specifically requiring this. Every person who has contributed to the process to date should have been notified in writing.

5. The Cork Consultation was advertised in the Newspapers as being on 21 October rather than November.

6. The location of the Cork public consultation was not in the city centre or a place served by public transport but in Togher on the eastern side of the city, an area known as the Myross of Cork.

7. Phone calls by the Macroom Environmental Group [MEG] to the hotel to clarify the date were told there was no booking for IFCI and that there was no public meeting. Only after serious and prolonged argument did the Manager agree to call a Brian Tobin who was listed as having a room booked for a private meeting for 50 people. The Manager then called the MEG apologising. MEG was the only stakeholder to attend.

Unless the public consultation is done properly, Friends of the Irish Environment, who are members of Forest Stewardship Council International, could no longer continue to support this Irish initiative to introduce Forest Stewardship Certification into Ireland and will request FSC International to withdraw the Irish Forest Stewardship Council's accreditation.

Tony Lowes
Director, FIE


A briefing document to inform submissions on the proposed 'Draft Forestry and Freshwater Pearl Mussel Requirements' has been placed in the Friends of the Irish Environment on-line Library.

Click here for the Briefing Document

This document is based on Access to Information Environment requests to the principal parties involved in addressing the issues that arose from 'the unexpected catastrophic loss of the fresh pearl mussels (Margaritifera) in River Owenriff in the summer months of 2004.'

It follows the story from the first Government emails sounding the alarm about the 'phosphorous time bomb' - vast tracks of forestry on peat soils now awaiting clear felling. It exposes the conflicting views of the principle players. It includes the best scientific advice, which shows that the proposed Requirements are inadequate in the measures for the rivers they try to protect and will still leave most of Ireland's surface waters unprotected.

The deadline for submissions is 7 December 2006.

The voluntary draft Freshwater Pearl Mussel Requirements are available at:http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/tenders_and_notices/proposals/FMP_Requirements.pdf
A briefing document to inform submissions on the proposed 'Draft Forestry and Freshwater Pearl Mussel Requirements' has been placed in the Friends of the Irish Environment on-line Library.

Click here for the Briefing Document

This document is based on Access to Information Environment requests to the principal parties involved in addressing the issues that arose from 'the unexpected catastrophic loss of the fresh pearl mussels (Margaritifera) in River Owenriff in the summer months of 2004.'

It follows the story from the first Government emails sounding the alarm about the 'phosphorous time bomb' - vast tracks of forestry on peat soils now awaiting clear felling. It exposes the conflicting views of the principle players. It includes the best scientific advice, which shows that the proposed Requirements are inadequate in the measures for the rivers they try to protect and will still leave most of Ireland's surface waters unprotected.

The deadline for submissions is 7 December 2006.

The voluntary draft Freshwater Pearl Mussel Requirements are available at:http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/tenders_and_notices/proposals/FMP_Requirements.pdf
The Forest Network Newsletter [FNN] today publishes a confidential Information Note obtained under Access to Information from the Parks and Wildlife Service requiring water standards higher by magnitudes than the current Q5, Ireland's cleanest water rating.

The Information Note claims a new water standard is required under EU law for the protection of the fresh water pearl mussel. Using emails released under the same request from both the Department of the Environment and the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, FNN tells the story of the how scientists were 'stunned' at a meeting with Coillte and the Forest Service by 'the amounts of fertilizer used to establish and maintain Sitka spruce crops on deep peat and the amounts lost to adjacent aquatic systems.'

Recent research shows that even the action of clearfelling, cutting down a plantation, in itself releases silt and nutrients in watercourses that can result in the death of the sensitive mussels.

The new water standard will mean an end to afforestation in Ireland's uplands and suggests that the current moratorium on clearfelling will have to be made permanent in 135 rivers in 45 catchments. Click here for more details.

READ FNN 171.

And if you do nothing else, see the extraordinary aerial photographs of the clearfelling allegedly linked to pearl mussel mortalities that has led to the current crisis and felling moratorium...

And while you are at it, listen to the debate on RTE between FIE and Coillte Teo.

And then there is the Sunday Times!
Mussel power leaves the trees standing
The Forest Network Newsletter [FNN] today publishes a confidential Information Note obtained under Access to Information from the Parks and Wildlife Service requiring water standards higher by magnitudes than the current Q5, Ireland's cleanest water rating.

The Information Note claims a new water standard is required under EU law for the protection of the fresh water pearl mussel. Using emails released under the same request from both the Department of the Environment and the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, FNN tells the story of the how scientists were 'stunned' at a meeting with Coillte and the Forest Service by 'the amounts of fertilizer used to establish and maintain Sitka spruce crops on deep peat and the amounts lost to adjacent aquatic systems.'

Recent research shows that even the action of clearfelling, cutting down a plantation, in itself releases silt and nutrients in watercourses that can result in the death of the sensitive mussels.

The new water standard will mean an end to afforestation in Ireland's uplands and suggests that the current moratorium on clearfelling will have to be made permanent in 135 rivers in 45 catchments. Click here for more details.

READ FNN 171.

And if you do nothing else, see the extraordinary aerial photographs of the clearfelling allegedly linked to pearl mussel mortalities that has led to the current crisis and felling moratorium...

And while you are at it, listen to the debate on RTE between FIE and Coillte Teo.

And then there is the Sunday Times!
Mussel power leaves the trees standing
The best information at the moment is that there have been records from 131 different rivers. Four populations with prior records are considered to be extinct, 2 former records are considered to be dubious, and 125 rivers have records of living mussels within 45 different catchments. Populations range in size from as low as 1 mussel left alive to 3 million individuals per river. Forty of these have very seriously declined and are unlikely to recover in the wild. Twelve have very significant populations (100's of thousands to millions), but have unsatisfactory recruitment, posing a very serious threat to the world status of the species. A total of 73 rivers are of unknown status, and while there are not likely to be undiscovered millions of mussels, there may be small catchments with significant numbers which may be viable with conservation management, and these need to be identified. The conservation importance of some rivers that now contain small numbers of mussels may be high (e.g. Nore River mussel), as there may be genetic variants that may help with restocking European rivers in the future.
Tables of SAC sites with mussels.



The best information at the moment is that there have been records from 131 different rivers. Four populations with prior records are considered to be extinct, 2 former records are considered to be dubious, and 125 rivers have records of living mussels within 45 different catchments. Populations range in size from as low as 1 mussel left alive to 3 million individuals per river. Forty of these have very seriously declined and are unlikely to recover in the wild. Twelve have very significant populations (100's of thousands to millions), but have unsatisfactory recruitment, posing a very serious threat to the world status of the species. A total of 73 rivers are of unknown status, and while there are not likely to be undiscovered millions of mussels, there may be small catchments with significant numbers which may be viable with conservation management, and these need to be identified. The conservation importance of some rivers that now contain small numbers of mussels may be high (e.g. Nore River mussel), as there may be genetic variants that may help with restocking European rivers in the future.
Tables of SAC sites with mussels.


Under pressure from the European Commission, the Minister for Agriculture has halted all clearfelling of Irish forests in catchments which support the protected fresh water pearl mussel, many thousands of hectares involving more than 143 Irish rivers. The cause is the new certainly that clearfelling of Irish forests planted 40 and 50 years ago in the headlands of upland rivers has led to widespread mortalities of Ireland's longest lived species through the release of natural phosphates in the soils and rock phosphate applied as fertiliser. This move represents the most important step in addressing the environmental problems caused by Irish forestry to date and, with legal protection of the species required by the Habitats Directive, will lead to a full environmental assessment of the situation and public consultation.

Read our Press Release

See the test results after clearfelling on Lettercraffroe Lough in the Owenriff Catchment in County Galway.
Under pressure from the European Commission, the Minister for Agriculture has halted all clearfelling of Irish forests in catchments which support the protected fresh water pearl mussel, many thousands of hectares involving more than 143 Irish rivers. The cause is the new certainly that clearfelling of Irish forests planted 40 and 50 years ago in the headlands of upland rivers has led to widespread mortalities of Ireland's longest lived species through the release of natural phosphates in the soils and rock phosphate applied as fertiliser. This move represents the most important step in addressing the environmental problems caused by Irish forestry to date and, with legal protection of the species required by the Habitats Directive, will lead to a full environmental assessment of the situation and public consultation.

Read our Press Release

See the test results after clearfelling on Lettercraffroe Lough in the Owenriff Catchment in County Galway.