Monday 15 July 2019

Coillte defends planned Glenboy tree-felling

Coillte has defended its tree-felling operation in Glenboy, Manorhamilton, following complaints from the local community.

In response to a query from The Sligo Champion, Coillte said: "There are over 21,000 private forest owners in Ireland who will look to fell and replant their forests as the trees reach commercial maturity, Coillte is just one of these owners. Forestry in Ireland can make a major contribution to our national efforts in combatting climate change and the Coillte forest estate welcomes over 18 million visitors to our forests every year.

"The tree felling planned for Glenboy is a fully licensed operation. Licences to fell trees are issued by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine who carry out a range of environmental and landscape analyses to ensure that the tree felling is appropriate to the local area and will not impact on the environment.

"Coillte also carry out a range of environmental assessments for tree felling operations, both at the planning stage and also during the felling operation itself.

"After a clear fell Coillte's Establishment Team will quickly assess the site for replanting and, generally, within a year the site cultivation will be completed for replanting.

"It generally takes two to three years for the forest to "green up" and the rotation (forest cycle) to begin again. The opening up of new areas through clear felling and subsequent replanting adds to the biodiversity of the forest, creating new habitats for mammals, birds and insects and deadwood is often left on site to promote insect diversity.

"Young vigorous forests are also excellent carbon sinks soaking up carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas. Coillte is committed to sustainable forest management and maintaining a sustainable yield of timber."

The statement went on to say that Coillte ensure that rivers or waters are not impacted by tree-felling operations, despite claims from Glenboy locals that residue can find its way into the river.

"Coillte routinely fell trees and replant them every day right across Ireland. Forest operations are planned carefully by Coillte and licenced by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine to ensure there is no impact from the forest operation to receiving waters.

"Coillte's forest operations are externally and independently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for Endorsing Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) International Forest Management Standards as being fully sustainable and have maintained this certification since 2001. Coillte monitor our forest operations routinely to ensure there is no impact to water quality."

Coillte said that they do all in their power to protect wildlife and their habitats during operations, although locals in Glenboy community feel as though not enough care has been taken to protect the wildlife.

"Coillte respect and work with nature across all of our forests. More than 20% of all our lands (over 90,000 hectares) are managed primarily to protect wildlife and sensitive habitats and promote biodiversity.

"Some examples of these areas in County Leitrim are Largy and Benbo forests, Lough Rynn and the Sliabh an Iarainn and Boleybrack upland mountain habitats. In our productive forests we take care to identify and protect important features of biodiversity during our forest operations. Since 2001, Coillte have employed local freelance independent ecologists to identify important areas for nature and wildlife on our estate and work with us to develop plans to protect and care for these areas."

While Brian O'Hagan and many others feel that the trees being planted are not suitable for the area, Coillte say they will help support local jobs.

"Coillte replant our forests with a range of species both native and introduced. The trees that will be replanted at Glenboy are being planted for commercial purposes to support local jobs while also sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In other areas where nature conservation and biodiversity management is the primary objective Coillte plant native broadleaf tree species."

Sligo Champion