Thursday 14 December 2017

Kevin Myers: How can Coillte, which speaks in such gibberish to its stakeholders -- you and me -- save the land from ruin?

Kevin Myers

John Feehan, in his magisterial 'Farming in Ireland', reports that between 1790 and 1850, some 50 million trees were planted in Ireland: nearly a million a year. That was good news then, and bad news now, because the life-span of the beech-tree is roughly two centuries.

Another tree, the horse chestnut, is under attack from a deadly new virus. In my lifetime, the elm tree, one of the great joys of Irish parkland, has disappeared as totally as the Great Elk. So in addition to bequeathing vast bank-debts to our great grandchildren, are we also going to leave them a landscape without trees?

We already have the least-treed countryside in Europe. Coillte was founded in 1988 to change that. But like many state agencies, it has the communicative skills of mute swans. Check on its website, pray: but in the meantime, allow me . . . Interested in Coillte's "stakeholders" (ah yes, that obligatory buzz-word)? Click on it, and you learn: "Coillte's stakeholder list is under constant review." You are then asked to supply your name and address before you may discover who these "stakeholders" actually are. Interested in buying? Well, click "How to Buy", and you're told: "The Coillte Group conducts the purchase of its goods and services in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies 2009. Goods and services are typically procured by calls to competition in either the 'Official Journal of the European Union' or the Etenders website through competitive tendering processes."

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