Woodland League Home

ContactNewsletterPressProjectsDocumentsFeedbackAbout UsPapers

To help us continue our work we would be very grateful for any donations, no matter how small. Please donate using Paypal, by clicking the button above. Special thanks to all those who have already donated. 

GIANT REDWOODS REBORN! See us on Facebook:


  Current News

This Is What We Want:

Woodland League Alternative Vision for Forestry

  Pilot Project
     Our Community focused forestry plan
       (.pdf document)

Letters of support for the Pilot Project:

  Kathy Sinnott - Ex MEP

  Joseph Glynn - Sustainable
      Development Consultant

  Diana Beresford Kroeger - Consultant
      Scientist to the Woodland League


 Magical Moments with Diana Beresford Kroeger
A guided walk in a tiny segment of the great forests that once stood throughout Ireland with Scientist Diana Beresford Kroeger and Andrew St.Ledger of the Woodland League.

 Save Ireland's Forests
This is a short news item, broadcast on Swiss TV by SFTV (The Swiss state broadcaster), covering all the angles on the sale of Ireland's forests. This includes interviews with Andrew St. Ledger, Bertie Ahern, Eamon Gilmore & Enda Kenny.

  State Vandalism and Neglect in a Rare Native Oakwood
This film was made to inspire the public to appreciate the true value of such remaining wild places, by creating a positive from a negative.

  Coillte Toxic Dump
A video showing the blatant disregard for our environment by Coillte (the Irish Forestry Board), in Chevy Chase, Co. Galway. Music by Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance.

  Green Deserts of Ireland
A video with Andrew St. Ledger giving a brief history of Irish forests and forest policy.

  Diana Beresford Kroeger
Consultant scientist to the Woodland League and author of 'The Global Forest', 'Arboretum America' and 'Arboretum Borealis'.

  Derrybrien Landslide
Video footage showing the devestation caused after Coillte clear-felling of 650 acres of trees on vulnerable upland bog soils, to facilitate a wind farm that is of no benefit to the local community.

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates regarding the sale of Coillte

We Are Associated With

"Láidir Faoi Meitheal"
(Strength through unity)

  Loggan Bridge
  Lough Key Park
  Broadford (Limerick)
  Kildimo, Pallaskenry

More Information on Coillte
and Irish Forest Policy:

  What is Coillte?
     Questions regarding legal status of
     Coillte, The Irish Forestry Board.

  Forestry Legislation
     The origins of Coillte

  Submission on Irish Forest Policy
     Submitted to Government 2010 by
      The Woodland League

  The Case for Ireland Funding Forests
     A Woodland League report examining
      EU forest funds

  Native Woodland Scientific Evaluation
     Native Woodland & Climate Change
      Field Course, Ted Cook

  Forestry in Ireland
     From the Citizen's Perspective
      2005, The Woodland League

Forest Issues From
Around The Globe

  The Cairns Declaration
     Industrial-scale logging in Papua New
     Guinea by Multinational Corporations

Upcoming Ted Cook Heritage Week Events in Co. Cork
Event: Ted Cook at Nano Nagle Convent
Date/Time: Sunday August 24th, 11am to 1pm
Location: Nano Nagle Convent, Ballygriffin, Mallow, Co. Cork
Location Directions on: www.nanonaglebirthplace.ie/directions-how-to-get-here/
As stated by Ted Cook: "As a forest people without a forest we hold a deep genetic memory of nature. Listening to Eddie Lenihan at Seedsavers some years ago on the topic of fairy trees I was reminded of Erin's youthful days - Bronze age times and Brehon Laws of Forestry - a tree culture. This event will recall Ireland's 10th Century Tree Culture and Brian Boru's Rise to Power. This event will include planting a grafted Oak Tree from the venerable Brian Boru Oak from Tuamgraney's Raheen Oakwood, which is a remnant of the famed Slieve Aughty forest that continued north from Kincora to Derrybrien - now long lost to the memory of men".

Event: Visit to Carrignacunna Norman Castlegrounds, Killavullen, with Ted Cook and Kevin Corcoran Environmental Biologist.
Date/Time: Sunday August 24th, 2 pm to 5pm
Location: Meet at Killavullen Bridge, adjoining Nano Nagle Convent, Ballygriffin, Mallow, Co. Cork
Location Directions on: www.nanonaglebirthplace.ie/directions-how-to-get-here/
Natural heritage event themed "Restoring our Relationship with Self through Biodiversity". Ted Cook and Kevin Corcoran in association with the suicide prevention charity Dia Dhuit, will explore Carrignacunna Demesne - it's 1km mature Beech Avenue, it's Old Growth Oakwoods with its abundance of under canopy and field storeys, it's resident wildlife including Red Squirrel, and the restored castle and its stories of the Nagles and their kinsfolk, the Edmund Burkes. Lord and Lady Sprigott very kindly provide access to visitors in support of suicide prevention - the mission for Dia Dhuit: www.diadhuit.ie
Note: No dogs other than guide dogs accompanying the visually impaired.

Event: Ensuring and Defending Affordable Housing for Biodiversity
Date/Time: Tuesday 26th August 12:00 pm to 15:00 pm
Location: Macroom Library, Macroom, Co. Cork.
A presentation at Macroom library will take place to mark 2014 as U.N. year of education for sustainable development. The presentation will be followed by participation in planting a number of potted specimen trees at a 1.6 acre site upriver in Macroom's historic demesne adjacent to the clubhouse. The organiser and project co-ordinators Conor O'Callaghan and Ted Cook acknowledge the demesne trustees for providing the 1.6 acre site to be managed as space for nature to function.

For more information on all Heritage Week events see: www.heritageweek.ie


Tuamgraney Native Woodland News
Hi all,
We would like to share with you some news and photos of this week's activities in Tuamgraney Native Woodland. Here is a great resource PDF document that outlines the history, community involvement, sustainability, ongoing management, etc. of this woodland which is a great example for any other woodland in Ireland to follow.

A walk in the Tuamgraney Native Woodland

The Coille Aonach and presentation in Tuamgraney Native Woodland, Co Clare - went ahead this week, for the Pride of Place, eco-community, national award competition. The day was a great success and the assessors were blown away by the effect the Community woodland has had on the local community as well as the copy nature aspect of our gentle management regime. The trees, they were told have been the great teachers for all who have been involved over the years. They also loved the idea that the Community of Tuamgraney is linked to the past, present and future by its historic Brian Boru oak tree, representing the past, the more recent ancient oakwood of Raheen the present and the restoration community oakwood the future. We explained how much the woodland is being used since we installed the new paths and how many local people are enjoying its multiple benefits. The main partners in the project are The Woodland League, CELT, Tuamgraney Development Association, Clare County Council, and the Heritage Council.

The sustainability education aspect and co operative management system for running the project impressed them too. Fingers crossed and touch wood we are definitely in with a shout for an award, but more importantly the turnout by the local community for the event and the opportunity to showcase the project to a wider audience is a valuable prize in itself. A local harpist and some woodland craft demonstrations as well as a guided tour of the woodland all added to the day. The assessors were also taken to the Brian Boru oak tree as well as the Raheen oakwood to show them the context and inspiration for the community native woodland.

Andrew St. Ledger making presentation to awarding panel and public

A Native Forest is a society of multiple diverse species who have evolved and formed relationships together over thousands of years. It is a Symbiotic Society that lives in harmony, where every part helps the next part, there is no waste, and when any part is weakened the whole society works to help the weak part. This system has developed over a long time, almost 400 million years, and is designed to protect the whole.

Human Society would do well to study this remarkable phenomenon, the Artist philosopher, John Ruskin (a pillar of the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement in England) said, "Bough by Bough you shall find the gentle law of respect and room for each other truly observed by the leaves in such broken way as they can manage it. But in the Nation you find everyone scrambling for his neighbours place."

Ruskin believed that an understanding of the way natural trees grow in the forest helps us understand how Society should be organised - a system of fellowship, not of cut throat competition.


One year on from Avondale
It is the Anniversary of Avondale: Save Ireland's Forest Campaign - which led to a victory for the people and our forests - last year 28 April 2013 - when due to public pressure, the government backed out of their plans to sell off Irish Forest Assets.

2014 has brought new challenges to the environment of our forests and associated lands- in the form of Climate Change impacts as seen in recent storms where an estimated 8 million trees blew down and also in impacts and changes in agricultural policy - particularly the Single Payments Scheme to farmers where any 'unutilisable' land like scrub and parts of hedgerows growing into fields must be marked and would be excluded from payment - which is causing farmers to remove and burn these 'marginal- or scrublands'. Scrub is a transitional woodland that is part of the forest inventory - making up as much as 15% of some counties forestry areas.

The recent round of public consultations on the New Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020 has just ended and we hope this time the Department will respond favourably to all of our concerns and that of other environmental groups. You can find our submission here:

CELT And The Woodland League submission on the new Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020

And here is our latest Press Release with links to all related news articles for your info. With this we also appeal to you to protect our environment and trees by responding to any incidences of concern - take pics and please notify us as well as the relevant authorities. Thank you.


National Tree Week events
This week is National Tree Week - annually celebrated in Ireland. It is a wonderful time to enjoy our native woodlands. Spring, yay! Join us for our events - see below - happening in Macroom, Co Cork, Tuamgraney, Co Clare, and Clonmel, Co Tipperary - or find out about a tree week event near you.

CELT and The Woodland League present: A Tree Talk and Walk for National Tree Week 2014

Theme: Walking in Raheen Woods in the footsteps of Brian Boru.

Andrew St Ledger, a well known native woodland specialist will take people on a journey through the ancient Raheen oakwood to reach the even older magical Brian Boru oak tree. Along the way, Andrew will explain how the Past, Present and Future are linked by our native trees, in this millennium commemoration year of Brian Boru, 1014 - 2014. The unique Gaelic woodland traditions which Brian Boru embodied as well as general Gaelic treelore he was familiar with, will be explored, shared and celebrated. An oak tree grown from acorns collected in Raheen oakwood will be planted to mark the life and legacy of Brian Boru, the last great High King of Ireland.

The walk is free with donations welcome, it will take approx 2 hrs. Meet at Tuamgraney Heritage Centre at 2PM, Sunday 9th March, on the Tuamgraney to Killaloe road, close to the village. All welcome. Dogs must be on leads. Bring suitable rain gear and walking boots.

Contact: Andrew St Ledger, 087 9933157


Ted Cook events in Macroom, Co Cork

Contact Ted for more info: 086 8789891.

Sunday March 2nd
Venue: Nano Nagle Convent For Spirituality and Ecology, Killavullen, Mallow, Co Cork
Time: 2 - 5PM
Theme: "The Ascendancy of the beech in 17th century Ireland"
A talk by Ted Cook which will review failure within beech trees, since their introduction to Ireland in early Cromwellian times, to adapt and naturalise in Ireland's hyper-oceanic climate, efficiently. Talk followed by planting of a native birch stand within the convent demesne.

Tuesday March 4th
Venue: Macroom Library, Co Cork
Time: Midday, 40 minutes
Theme: "Trees and the Law"
Ted Cook continues a National Tree Week series that in 2012 and 2013 summarised the Brehon Law codes concerning forestry, with an introduction to Common Law and Legislation and their provisions as they have evolved in an Irish context through the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. The current Forestry bill provisions will be summarised. Followed by a tree planting.

Sat March 8th
Venue: Golf club house, Macroom castle grounds
Time: 11AM - 4PM
Theme: Planting a native woodland on an acre provided by Macroom Castle demesne trustees
Promoted by Conor O'Callaghan (forestry masters student) and Ted Cook, the Woodland League.


Storm Trees Day of Events

Clonmel, Co Tipperary - Saturday, 8th March - arranged by Lyn Mather of the Woodland League. Andrew St Ledger is doing a talk and walk. Click on poster to enlarge for info.










Woodland League response to ongoing issues raised by Brendan Kelly, Jan 2014
Regards the false promotion of a Woodland League EGM called by Brendan Kelly.

For clarification, there is no Woodland League EGM on March 8th in Dublin, as is being currently falsely promoted by Brendan Kelly who remains suspended by the Woodland League for continued false representation and unfounded allegations.

No EGM was ever agreed by the active core members of the Woodland League, nor has Brendan ever proposed to hold one via existing protocol.

Brendan Kelly has no mandate, authority or capacity to call for Woodland League meetings or claim to represent the Woodland League at this time.

The Woodland League responded to the issues that have arisen in our 25th january 2014 communication to Brendan, posted by letter and published on our facebook page. To date Brendan Kelly has made no reply, other than to text the PRO that he was calling an EGM.

An opportunity to have a meeting to discuss the issues was presented through mediation terms agreed by Brendan and the League last year, when this dispute arose, unfortunately the terms were breached by Brendan Kelly which led to the meeting being cancelled.

A copy of the Woodland League 25th january 2014 communication of our position is as contained within this link below, and the matter is being dealt with internally.

Thank you,
Andrew St Ledger,
PRO The Woodland League


Some questions that were just begging to be asked
Two important parliamentary questions submitted on behalf of the Woodland League showing how our public forests are being mismanaged and not benefiting the Irish people, who are the owners:

Parliamentary questions put forward on 18th December, 2013


Bertie: the opposite of King Midas
Seemingly, everything the former Taoiseach Mr. Ahern touches turns into something that is most certainly not gold. And so it is that another little disaster crawls out from under its rock. A copy of the Helvetia Wealth letter to shareholders regarding their recent financial collapse has come into the public domain:

Helvetia Wealth AG letter to shareholders, 9th January, 2014

Bertie Ahern was chairman of Helvetia's subsidiary company, the International Forestry Fund (IFF), who expressed an interest in buying Coillte, the Irish Forestry Board. You can read more background info about this situation further on down the Woodland League front page starting here, with more detail here. And so, class, your word for today is: Schadenfreude :-)


Joint submission on behalf of the Woodland League, CELT, Forest Friends, and Irish Natural Forestry Foundation
A joint submission has been made by the above parties in regard to the SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) and review of forest policy report 2012, which will determine the future direction of Irish Forest policy. The League and the other NGOs claim the SEA and review of current forest policy to be wholly inadequate as the separate review of Coillte information was not made available for the report, leaving grounds for a complaint regards breach of the EU SEA Directive.

You can read the submission here.


Save Ireland's Forests Campaign Ends as Government Bows to People Power
After the government announcement yesterday, 19th June, that the forests will not now be sold, our Public Forests are safe. It is a victory for the People. The Woodland League are both proud and honoured to have been the guardians of this Peoples' campaign, and we are delighted to have won this hard fought battle.

We must however remain vigilant as privatisation of state assets is still on the agenda going into the future. Minister Coveney has explicitly stated that this is the case with the forests after Coillte have been restructured. Let us push now for the long overdue reform of forestry policy, the regeneration of our native forests and unique woodland culture, staying united to demand a more sustainable forestry policy; a community based model focused on our native tree species as advocated by the Woodland League and envisioned in our Alternative Vision for Forestry in Ireland on the website.

Together we can create a new Treeconomy to help Treestore and Treejuvenate this broken land. A heartfelt thank you to everybody who contributed however small or large to achieving this collective victory. This is your victory, make no mistake about it. The politicians felt the heat and were forced to back down. When too many citizens wake up at the same time, their Machiavellian schemes are exposed and fall apart.

Finally, a big thank you to Richard Boyd Barrett, who used his public office to highlight our campaign for the benefit of the People - a rarity among our elected representatives.

The Woodland League


Join us for National Walk in the Woods Day events all around Ireland on Sunday, 9th June, 2013
Get details of when and where to meet up closest to you here: Save Our Forests of Ireland (follow the 'click here to find a walk listed in your county' link).

Read the Woodland League's associated statement here.


Dail Eireann Motion on Coillte
Above is the text of a recent Dail Eireann motion which was proposed with input from the Woodland League, expressing dismay at and opposing the proposal for the sale of the State Forestry manage by Coillte.

Letter of Protest
The Woodland league letter of protest regards Coilltes FSC ecolabel relating to its denial of Indigenous peoples rights and other breaches of the FSC process in Ireland that have continued for thirteen years culminating in a very weak FSC Ireland forest standard, which will most likely become Irelands National Forest Standard, this will be a major setback for changing forest policy in Ireland for many years to come and must be stopped. FSC international have never responded to our letter.

FSC Forest Standard
FSC Irelands proposed weak FSC forest standard, showing the dilution of FSC Principal 3 Indigenous Peoples Rights, it effectively denies the existence of Indigenous people in Ireland, therefore removing communities rights to access their forest resources as well as their rights under Brehon law, the Indigenous law code of this land. This facilitates the continuation of unbridled exploitation of public forest lands against the wishes of local communities. It will be of great benefit to private investors buying leases for harvesting rights as currently proposed, and potentially fracking companies.

Forest Policy In Ireland a Citizens Perspective

This report highlights a litany of social and environmental abuses by Coillte when in possession of their FSC ecolabel and shows the farcical nature of the FSC process in Ireland, it has been used as both a sword and a shield by Coillte against all criticism of their behaviour. The report was brought to the attention of EU commissioners in 2005 and had a positive impact on how the EU funds forestry schemes today regards environmental criteria.

Please use postal code: 1234
Having trouble signing? Click here

  What You Can Do Now:
Update on the sale of our forests. This .pdf document also contains information on what you can do to help.

  Save Ireland's Forests Petition
This is a printable version of our petition. Please feel free to download, print, distribute and gather signatures.

  Flyer - Save Ireland's Forests
Please print this flyer and distribute locally.

Download quotes from various people about the sale of our forests

Plantations are not Forests! - Forests are not Commodities!

Forests are Life

Photo taken in a wild Irish Wood, in Co. Clare on new years day 2010 by Andrew St Ledger
Photo taken in a wild Irish Wood, in Co. Clare on new years day 2010 by Andrew St Ledger

Support the Woodland League Petition

Please Sign this Petition, using the postal code 1234 at www.thepetitionsite.com


The Irish Government is moving closer to a huge sell-off of the public forests managed by Coillte (The Irish Forestry Board) to private investors. An area greater than 1 million acres, equivalent to two medium sized counties will be lost forever. This will include some of our most valuable native woodlands, wild places and some of the last refuges of our native flora and fauna.

Interest has been expressed by Swiss finance company Helvetia Wealth - who own the International Forestry Fund (IFF) - chaired by Bertie Ahern, (ex-prime minister of Ireland) as well as The China Investment Corporation.

Please sign this petition now to tell the Irish Government that Ireland's Forests are not for sale. These forests are the inheritance of the Irish children and managed wisely can help secure Ireland's social, environmental and economic future. A strong show of support, asserting our rightful ownership of the public forests will make all the difference.

Petition Letter

To: Michael D Higgins, The President of Ireland, and the Irish Government.

We the undersigned,

Wish it be known that the public forests belong to the people of Ireland and under no circumstances should they be sold to private interests as a short-sighted economic reaction.

The economy of Ireland under the Gaelic Order was that of the forests. This great resource was the provider of raw materials, medicine, weapons, tools, charcoal and food (in the form of berries, nuts, fungi, fruit, wild animals, etc.) as well as the basis for spirituality and wisdom. No other country has as many placenames connected to the forest with as many as 40,000 still in existence. Our forests are of great cultural and economic importance, therefore in these uncertain times we must retain full control over this most precious resource.

The loss of our public forests will mean an area equivalent to two medium sized counties will be gone forever, all the potential benefits to local communities (now needed more than ever) will be lost. Access to rivers and water rights, fishing and hunting rights, wild fruits, nuts, mushrooms and basic access to nature will be removed, as well as the environmental services trees provide.

The Irish forests need to be placed in a trust to safeguard them now and into the future. We also wish to see the public forests developed and diversified to maximise their potential multiple benefits for the common good of the Nation. This should focus on the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of our neglected native tree species. The native trees of any place are scientifically recognised to be the most valuable land based habitat for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

We hope that you appreciate the seriousness of this matter, that you will reconsider any notion of selling the public forests and proceed to act in the best interests of the Irish people.

"Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?, Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár"
"What will we do without wood?, now the forest lies low"

Daibhí ÓBruadair (circa 1700's), a brehon poet lamenting the loss of the great Irish forests in his famous poem Caoine Cill Chais.

Photo: Carlene Gildea
Photo, Hawthorn by Carlene Gildea

What will the Sale and Loss of Ireland's Public Forests actually mean:

  • An area the size of two medium sized counties like Meath will be in Private ownership, which could entail having Private security companies with razor-wire fencing in place to prevent the sovereign citizens of Ireland accessing their old rights of way, areas of commonage, archaeological and sites of cultural significance.

  • Some of our most valuable native woodland sites will be threatened, the last remains of our ancient wild places, the refuge of our native flora and fauna.

  • The opportunity to transform the green desert of monocultural chemical dependent exotic species that passes for state forestry, back to a natural Native woodland model will be lost.

  • The public will be unable to prevent unsustainable development happening in their woodlands, like quarries, windfarms, incinerators, nursing homes, golf courses, etc.

  • All the benefits from the forests, now needed more than ever, will be removed from local communities. These include firewood, wild fruits, nuts & mushrooms and basic access to nature for walking, mountain-biking etc.

  • Access to rivers and water rights, fishing, will also be taken away.

Lest we forget, Ireland's natural environment and indigenous culture is western seaboard temperate rainforest embedded, even though the Great Forests were taken, their spirit is in the land, the poetry, and music of Ireland. Losing control of the public forests is too high a price to pay for a culture that is still trying to find its way back to its Forest culture. It was the Great Forests which sustained the Gaelic people for centuries as an independent highly civilised people, renowned for their wisdom and learning, its removal was part of the process of that culture's final destruction.

Brian Boru Oak, County Clare.
The Brian Boru Oak, Co. Clare, is believed to be over 900 years old.

Issues associated with the sale of Coillte:

  • Since the McCarthy report of June 2009, the selling of Coillte, and Ireland's entire public forest estate, has been on the cards.

  • The Woodland League, have always suspected that Coillte was set up a) as a vehicle to facilitate the extraction of huge grants from the EU, and b) to consolidate, and sell off, a major Public asset, the largest land bank.

  • In November of 2009 disgraced ex Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was appointed chairman of a Swiss finance company with forestry interests. They have, openly expressed their interest in buying Coillte.

  • Coillte was created in 1989 and "gifted" the land bank of the Forest Service, (up till then managed under the Department of Agriculture). It was set up as a semi state body, with two shareholders, the Minister for Finance Albert Reynolds holding 99 shares, and the Minister for Energy Michael Smith(connection to energy and resources, Shell etc) with 1 share, on behalf of the public.

  • The Land Commission set up in the late 1800's to redistribute land to the people after the victory of the Land League, was dissolved on the same day, and all its remaining assets were transferred to Coillte. There is no record of the size of this land bank or what other assets came with it, e.g. properties, etc.

  • Coilltes first act was to commission a geological survey of the land beneath the trees, the results of which are not in the public domain. The new owners may inherit rich mineral deposits.

  • From its inception, Coillte was excluded from FOI (Freedom of Information) making it impossible to obtain information regarding its business, its employees operate under the Official Secrets act.

  • Bizarre indeed, for a company whose remit is the planting and growing of trees to increase the public forest estate and manage this gift wisely.

  • Since 1989, Coillte have posted 300 million Euros in profits.

  • They have acted as the largest unofficial land developer in Ireland and have sold thousands of acres in that period, including the 400 acres to facilitate Shells refinery in Mayo.

  • In their 21 years existence, they have made one contribution to the public exchequer -- 2.5 million Euros, last year.

  • This coincided with Coillte requiring a loan facility of 400 million Euros, from a government in financial crisis. This is 100 million euros more than all of their profits over 21 years. The loan was approved by the Dail during Christmas week 2009.

  • Coillte claim they are now in debt to the tune of 179 million Euros.

  • The CEO, David Gunning has stated the traditional forestry model in Ireland is no longer valid, when giving a presentation to the joint agriculture committee in 2009.

  • Recently, Coillte's estate was valued by a State agency at 1.2 billion euros, approx 1000 euros per acre.

As the Woodland League sees it we are facing a situation where a company has so mismanaged its millions of funds in grants and payments that it is in debt, that this same company has, in 21 years, made virtually no return to the exchequer, and that now, a former Taoiseach, privy to Coillte's real worth (including geological) is attempting to sell it, and one million acres of Ireland, to Swiss financiers.

Someone must shout STOP!!!

" A culture" the poet W.H. Auden said, "Is no better than its woods."
A place without trees, he implied, has no roots, no strength and no shelter.

Please Sign Our Petition at www.thepetitionsite.com 
When asked for postcode enter 1234.

Thanking you for your support.

See the following Woodland League press releases for further information:

Press Release 27 Aug.pdf - Millenium Woodlands

Ireland cannot afford to sell the peoples forests.pdf - McCarthy Report

External Links:

Ahern's international forestry body could own 7% of Irish land - Tribune Article December 5, 2010

The International Forestry Fund presents to the China Investment Corporation - While Ireland was facing economic & sovereign meltdown with the IMF sharks circling her waters, Bertie Ahern (an elected representative of the Irish People) was in China, in a private capacity as chairman of the IFF.

A note of thanks to all our supporters, and a Happy New Year - The Woodland League

As the Woodland League operate on a voluntary basis we would welcome any financial contributions, large or small, towards continuing our work. We are currently trying to raise funds for a freedom of information request, our continuing campaign and also for ongoing phone bills and other costs.

Donations can be sent to -

The Woodland League, C/O East Clare Community Co-op, Main Street, Scarriff, Co. Clare.


Bank Details -

Bank of Ireland, Tulla, Co. Clare.
Account No: 80998623
NSC: 904480
IBAN No: IE53 BOFI 9044 8080 9986 23

Contact -

Andrew St Ledger, PRO The Woodland League
087 9933157

Sunday Mirror Article 2010

Forestry chiefs have been accused of secretly selling off Ireland’s State-owned woodlands to balance their books.

The Woodland League claims forestry occupying an area almost as large as Louth will end up being sold to private companies by Coillte, the Government-backed forestry board.

Coillte at present owns more than 445,000 hectares of land, 7 per cent of all land in the Republic.

Last year it sold off €33.8million worth of assets to two pension trusts.

One of them was the Irish Forestry Unit Trust - a pension trust fund involving both AIB and Irish Life. The IFUT website says forestry assets have jumped in value from €35million to €175million in 16 years.

Woodland League’s Andrew St Ledger said: “Coillte are €200million in debt...” and claimed the sell-off amounted to “privatisation by stealth”.

Coillte spokesman Tom Byrne admitted Coillte was €177.4million in debt but said: “In 2009 we sold immature timber to Irish Forestry Unit Trust... we did not sell the land on which this timber grows.”

A comment on The Aarhus Convention which Ireland has failed to ratify fully, the Woodland League are calling for the full implementation of the Convention in order for citizens to fully participate in protecting their Environment.

Although regional in scope, the significance of the Aarhus Convention is global. It is by far the most impressive elaboration of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, which stresses the need for citizen's participation in environmental issues and for access to information on the environment held by public authorities."

"As such it is the most ambitious venture in the area of environmental democracy so far undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations."

Kofi A. Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

Derrybrien landslide caused by Coillte clearfelling 600 acres of trees on an upland bog allied to major road building undermining the bog. Followed by ESB International Quarrying as well as the fact each turbine required 200 tons of concrete as a base, which requires a large pit. Windfarms on upland bogs do not work.


"If you want to know how the shoe fits ask the person who is wearing it, not the one who made it.

The above quotation is very apt and describes superbly the on going struggle of the small isolated rural communities to have their voice and concerns heard...
For more click here to go to Derrybrien link. Minutes of a public meeting involving the Soil Association, Derrybrien community, and the Woodland league in 2004 , regarding the issues surrouding the sale of public land for a private windfarm against the wishes of the local community, that led to the landslide.


The Woodland League accuses Coillte of 'stealth privatisation' of state forests

The Woodland League, a not for profit non- governmental organisation, has publicly expressed its concern  at what it claims is the 'stealth privatisation' by Coillte of state forest lands.
The Woodland League were responding to the latest financial statement issued by Coillte , The Irish Forestry Board. According to a spokesman for the Woodland League, Andrew St Ledger, Coillte sold 33 million euros worth of public forests to the IFUT and AIB Pension Trust in 2008/2009 in order to balance its books, as  the state company continues to trade at a loss, concerning its main remit, forestry.

The Irish Forestry Unit Trust (IFUT) is a partnership comprising Coillte, AIB, and Irish Life.

St Ledger points to the recent clear felling  by IFUT of a mature pine forest in Chevy Chase Forest in south Galway as an example of the privatisation by stealth that is occurring, and claims that the Trust is now  actively seeking 'cash for trees'.

"Local people who use Chevy Chase as an amenity were astounded when the felling began as they assumed that  these trees were exempt from such felling because of their amenity and wildlife value" says St Ledger. "They were even more surprised to discover the trees were owned by IFUT and were no longer part of the public forest estate".

“Some of the concerned locals contacted the Woodland League who then ascertained through the Forest Service, that  the felling was being conducted using a five year old general felling license” he says. " This practice allows for the local Forestry Inspector to be bypassed, this is in effect a fast- track approach to felling, as it eliminates the need for a fresh environmental assessment of the site".

According to St Ledger, the Chevy Chase site was recommended to be restored to a native woodland habitat by the Forest Service in 2005 and is a special protection area for birds (SPA), highlighting its ecological value.

"Given that we are in the middle of Biodiversity Week when biodiversity awareness is being promoted by the State, communities adjacent to Coillte public forests need to be vigilant about the role of IFUT and other pension companies in ordering the felling of forests which traditionally have been understood to be public forests" says St Ledger.

He said “Unfortunately when it comes to regulation, Ireland has one of the worst records for environmental protection in the EU with the least amount of protected areas for biodiversity at 1.17% of total land area". Albania one of the poorest countries in the world still manages to protect 3.58% of its territory, source United Nations environment programme.” ENDS

Coillte in court for causing another environmental disaster.

In regard to Irelands failure to correct its EIA (environmental impact assessment) methodology subsequent to the 2008 ECJ ( european court judgement ) judgement, concerning the Derrybrien landslide caused by Coillte, in order to protect   people and their environment who are dangerously exposed by their continued delinquent activities.

It has become very clear that there is no de-facto environmental regulation or protection in Ireland, we have the worst non-compliance case list in the EU. Environmental services and goods are public property, therefore their protection is of vital public interest, their destruction and exploitation leaves the costs to be borne by the public in the end. There's a huge cost currently.

being ignored by economists and politicians alike. The forestry reviews should be addressing this major issue,currently underway are part of the current programme for government, and unfortunately they appear to have been set up with handpicked committees, so that once again the poacher and gamekeeper remain as one.

On feb 11, the ESB and Coillte were both in court regarding the landslide caused by yet another inappropriate joint windfarm project in Owengar, Leitrim. The Judge gave them both three months to put in place a legally - binding programme to save a river destroyed, the problem though is who will oversee and ensure this is done. I have just been informed by the local Forest Service inspector that the replanting obligation where woodland has been destroyed is not being enforced, relating to a local case where a developer who was sold public forestry containing mixed native species and bulldozed it, when brought to court and convicted, never reinstated the woodland as requested by the court. Once a year goes by, the replanting aspect of the 1946 forestry Act cannot be enforced.

The Forest Service is the regulator for forestry in Ireland.....The inspector said there are not enough staff etc etc to follow up these cases and that the instructions from the top is ignore these cases.

In the Leitrim case the Fisheries officer Matt Nolan said it would take 500,000 euros over five years to restore the Owengar river and the fishing rights. There is a second court case pending regarding the Kerry landslide involving another Coillte windfarm. Despite 15,000 fish killed and the river destroyed in the Derrybrien landslide, the Fisheries Board prosecution was struck out and the river was never restored. Once again the big question is who will follow up these disasters and who will try to use common sense to halt this disaster prone windfarm policy?

Coillte are using similar upland bog sites of no use for trees as they have discovered, to cash in on windfarm grants for alternative energy.

This company Coillte, is completely out of control and has to be one of the biggest threats to our environment at this moment in time, they continue to be given the car keys by the State to crash the car again and again. Independent investigation into their activities is required, not an in house review which has been set up without civic/ngo participation. The Precautionary Principle should be invoked by the Pillar to call for the halting of Coilltes windfarm programme until such time as there is proper EIA methodology in place, and the relevant authorities are compliant in their duties to protect the environment. When asked to divulge the location of the proposed extensive Coillte windfarm programme in 2008, in order to try to flag the potential danger, the Minister for Agriculture Tony Killeen refused, citing commercially sensitive information.

The ECJ ruling on the Derrybrien landslide, regarding Irelands interpretation of the EIA directive has so far been ignored. All subsequent EIAs are in effect illegal. It really is only a matter of time before somebody is killed from this continued obstinacy in pursuit of profit for a few that has nothing to do with delivering sustainable energy for Ireland.

Andrew St Ledger,
PRO The Woodlandleague

This was in yesterday's sunday tribune....

Latest Ahern role linked to offshore funds
Ex-taoiseach chair of forestry body financed by Swiss company that offers controversial service

Ken Foxe, Public Affairs Correspondent

Bertie Ahern: growing portfolio

FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been appointed chairperson of a forestry body, which is being financed by a Swiss firm that is a specialist in offshore banking. Ahern became chairman of the International Forestry Fund late last year. It was the latest appointment in his growing portfolio of business interests outside politics.

The main backers of the fund are Helvetia Wealth AG of Switzerland and the Irish Forestry Fund, which plans to invest in trees in Ireland, the UK and Central America.

A spokesman for the fund said it would also consider an acquisition of Coillte, privatisation of which was mooted in the report of An Bord Snip Nua.

Helvetia Wealth, which is the primary backer of the scheme, is an international finance company that offers offshore banking to clients.

Based in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, it boasts that it can give the benefits of an offshore bank account to ordinary investors.

Its website states: "Offshore banking was once the sole preserve of the world's wealthiest investors; a lucrative, fiercely-guarded sphere that offered financial rewards to a small handful of private and corporate investors.

"However, improved liquidity and growth in global markets over recent years has granted individuals greater access to offshore banking advice and services than ever before.

"The benefits of offshore banking are vast; its scope for wealth creation and preservation are almost limitless. Private and corporate clients alike are reaping significant rewards offered by an offshore bank account, and if you'd like to join this elite group of investors, it's time you spoke to Helvetia Wealth."

The financial firm says it is "expertly positioned" to help clients and its finance avoids "political and economic volatility".

Paul Brosnan of the International Forestry Fund said that Ahern, despite still serving as a TD, was the perfect candidate for the job as chair of the body. He said: "The International Forestry Fund has been recently launched. We were looking for a chairman with a very good international reputation and the ability to get things done.

"Bertie Ahern sprang to mind and we are absolutely delighted with that. We didn't ask him to become chairman because he is an expert in forestry; we have enough of those on board. He has a proven ability to make things happen on an international basis.

"He is a very talented man. When you are taoiseach, you have to be able to keep a lot of balls in the air. He proved himself very capable when he was taoiseach."

Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for a former taoiseach to be involved in a firm that was involved in offering offshore banking, he said it was only part of Helvetia Wealth's business.

He said: "It is not that [Helvetia Wealth] specialises in offshore banking; it is a Zurich-based organisation and is very effective.

A spokeswoman for Ahern said: "The time commitment has not been big since he was appointed last year. He is quite satisfied it is a good company."

January 10, 2010

A List Of Points For inclusion in Forestry Debate in the Seanad 2008

This document has been prepared by Andrew St Ledger of the Woodland league in order to raise awareness of what are quite serious issues surrounding what should be our most valuable natural resource. The Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames requested this information to assist her own and Fine Gaels contribution through Senators Joe O reilly and Paul Bradford to this most timely debate. The Woodland league wish to acknowledge Fidelmas foresight and grasp of the problems facing the forest industry.

Every country has three forms of wealth, material, cultural, and biological. The first two we understand well because they are the substance of our every day lives. The essence of the biodiversity problem is that biological wealth is taken much less seriously. This is a major strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. Diversity is a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and amenities. The flora and fauna are also part of a countrys heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centred on that time and place and hence as much a reason for national concern as the particularities of language and culture.”

This is the context for understanding the importance of our Native woodland resource, which is currently the poor relation in terms of priority in our forest policy.
  1. Ireland has the lowest tree cover in the E.U., the objective of our forest policy should be increased cover from 10 % at present of our land mass to the E.U. average which is 35%, with the emphasis placed on our native tree species.
  1. Ireland currently has no forestry standard to verify our commitments to S.F.M. (SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT) via the Lisbon and Helsinki agreements signed up to at E.U. level. A steering group was set up to create a forest standard for Ireland in 1999 called The I.F.C.I. (Irish Forest Certification Initiative), this was to co-incide with the granting of an ecolabel to Coillte the Irish State Forestry Board, by a body called F.S.C. (Forest Stewardship Council) an independent forest certification body set up to promote S.F.M.(sustainable forest management). F.S.C. insists on a forest standard being created with full consultation from Social, Environmental, and Economic stakeholders. Nine years on and almost 200,000 euros spent, there is no Forest standard in place, putting Ireland at a competitive disadvantage in terms of creating a viable forest industry.
  1. We have an over reliance on non native softwood species planted as monocultures with little man management, dependent on clearfelling by heavy machinery , which is injurious to our soil, water, and landscape. These industrial plantations have led to depopulation and decline of rural communities, with the high level of mechanisation there is minimum labour input. They are susceptible to fire due to the high resin content of non native species. They require a high level of pesticide usage which leads to pollution and health problems. The downstream industies reliant on this source of cheap pulp wood mainly chipboard/mdf factories  producer dioxins as a byproduct which enters the air and water affecting the health and well being of local adjacent communities as well as biodiversity.
  1. Natural Native Forests (of which we have so little left) are characterised by a higher level of biodiversity, in terms of their genetic resources species and habitat diversity than any other land based ecosystem, surely the wiser use of our natural resources should prioritise our native tree species now in order to develop a more economically, environmentally, and socially beneficial native woodland multi use forestry industry in Ireland, with all of the known benefits this would accumulate for rural communities and the overall common good in Ireland.
  1. The economic argument which has long been used to justify the Industrial Plantation non-native species model of forestry is now gone as Coillte have recently admitted that it is now cheaper to import wood from Scotland by boat, in reponse to outrage by the Irish Forestry Contractors Association who discovered this was happening last year. These same contractors are facing bankruptcy and ruination according to an independent financial consultants report into their industry.
    (update; In november 2009 the CEO of Coillte, David Gunning admitted before a Dail Agriculture and food committee, that the traditional forestry model in Ireland was no longer valid)
  1. The native trees of any place confer stability on soil, air, and water, as well as constituting a living link to our natural heritage via the unique Ogham Gaelic tree Alphabet and the Brehon laws, the second oldest written law system after Sanskrit to which it has many similarities. The Brehon laws were in use for at least 3000 years on this Island, and listed all 28 species of native tree and shrub  into four groups of seven in order of importance economically, spiritualitywise, and environmentwise, and protected these from wilful damage. This showed a remarkable sense of understanding of the natural world that should be respected and incorporated into any new forest policy. One of the earliest names recorded for Ireland is Inis na Bhfeodhadha translated as The Island of the sacred trees.
  1. Ireland with its mild climate and plenty of rain is ideally suited for recreating new hardwood forests benefiting the social, environmental, and economic aspects of sustainable development. This is very poignant when the prices of softwoods/pulp are plummeting due to oversupply by the global plantation industry. The economy of Ireland while the Brehon laws were in use was based on its diverse forests. Irelands natural landscape is one of mainly Temperate rainforest (not as biodiversity rich as tropical rainforests but every bit as important all the same) The planet needs one third of its surface covered in natural forests, it is currently below 20 % and dwindling, this needs addressing urgently in light of the new realty of climate change challenges, facing us all.
  1. It is worth noting that for every ton of native hardwood produced naturally there is a tiny amount of CO2 produced, in fact the wood has locked up the carbon in its lifetime, the CO2 is created in the harvesting and processing of the wood. In contrast to this is the fact that one ton of concrete produces one ton of CO2, it is obvious then that we need to grow more of our building materials and encourage communities to grow native species community woodlands as local carbon sinks, recreation spaces, biodiversity banks, sources of material for local craft based and biomass industries, etc etc etc. This fits in with the objectives of Agenda 21(what we all must do to survive in the twenty first century), the blueprint for sustainable development which Ireland signed up to at Rio in 1992, and which informs E.U. sustainable development and environment policy/laws. Attached to Agenda 21 are a set of Forest principles, which form the basis of S.F.M. (sustainable forest management). The Rio Declaration on the environment and its blueprint for achieving a sustainable future Agenda 21 with the forest Principles are on the Woodland League website:?????????????
  1. Irelands Rural development Programme (the EUvehicle that funds forestry across the EU, the source of grants for forestry since the early 1990's ) for the next six years has omitted Afforestation (new tree planting initiatives and ancillary activities) having initially included this in its draft programme sent to the E.U. for scrutiny last year. As part of the process the draft plan had to be analysed by independent consultants in terms of its sustainable environmental compatibility, and in the  SEA ( Strategic Environmental Evaluation) section on Forestry the consultants stated that there was insufficient knowledge and expertise within the forest industry in Ireland and a complete lack of management sytems in place for aftercare of trees planted in recent times. Meaning there was insufficient cash flow from sustainable management of the forest resource, which occurs in countries with more established traditions of Forest mangement, to allow the sector to be viable economically. Most damning of all was the statement that without one hundred per cent E.U. forestry grants there would be no tree planting done in Ireland. One other significant point made was that there was no provison or reference of note in the draft R.D.P. (Rural Development Programme) to the issue of public access to these environmental assets (new forests) that they the public have helped finance through taxation.This is relevant when one looks at the amount of public forest which is being sold for unsustainable developments by Coillte, to massage the books and to put a gloss on an unhealthy industry that cannot pay its way.
    These land sales are against the wishes of many local communities around the country who are not being consulted on these matters.The most glaring example being the 400 acres of public forest sold by Coillte to facilitate the Shell gas refinery in Rossport Co Mayo. More information on this issue can be found on the website in our report; The case for Ireland Funding Forests into the Future.
  1. Irelands outdated Forestry acts cannot deliver S.F.M. or protection to whats left of our Native woodlands, and as such the E.U. has insisted that they are upgraded and brought into line with E.U. environment laws. The acts have been under review since 1997 and the most problematic aspect of this debacle is that the 1988 Forestry Act which established Coillte is not included in the review, this ensures that Coilltes purely economic mandate to return a profit at any cost to the environment and local communities remains untouchable. (Update; The recent programme for government 2009 has included a review of the 1988 forestry Act.)

Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the EU Forest Action Plan

Final report
November 2009

This study, financed by the European Commission, was undertaken by the European Forest Institute in cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, the Centre Tecnologic Forestal De Catalunya in Solsona and the University of Hamburg, Institute for World Forestry.

The study contains both an inventory of the implementation of the 18 Key Actions of the EU Forest Action Plan and an evaluation of its relevance, effectiveness, efficiency. It contains recommendations for the EU Forest Action Plan in the period until 2012.

The conclusions, recommendations and opinions presented in this report reflect the opinion of the consultants and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission.

Judgement on the quality of the evaluation report .pdf file
Full text .pdf file
Annexes .pdf file
Synthetic summary .pdf file Executive summary .pdf file
  • Table of contents .pdf file
  • Chapter 1: Introduction .pdf file
  • Chapter 2: Structure of the forest sector in the EU and overview of the policy framework .pdf file
  • Chapter 3: Methodology .pdf file
  • Chapter 4: Implementation of the EU FAP .pdf file
  • Chapter 5: Evaluation of the EU Forest Action Plan .pdf file
  • Chapter 6: Conclusions and recommendations .pdf file
For more, go to: EU Agriculture Reports and here.
Shaping forest communication in the European Union: public perceptions of forests and forestry - Tender no. AGRI-2008-EVAL-10 Under the Framework Contract No. 30-CE-0101908/00-50

Final Report Client:
For more click on Papers page
New material concerning national and EU law in regard to protecting trees and our environment, as well as practical care for trees in nurseries.
Click here for more information.


HEADLINE: What happened to the trees we were promised?

SUBHEAD: Bertie's 4 million euro Millennium project derided as 'farce' as Coillte admits that only one in 10 will survive

BYLINE: Neil Michael
STORY DATE: 23/08/2009
TITLE: Ireland on Sunday
DATE: 23/08/2009
PAGE: 33

WHEN it was launched in a blaze of publicity in 1999 by then taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the People's Millennium Forests project seemed like a brilliant, even inspired idea. Indeed, it seemed there were few better ways for forestry body Coillte to boost its profile and eco-friendly credentials.

Costing just over ¨4m, the project's aims were to 'rescue and restore' 16 woodlands in which 1.2 million trees would be planted with every household in the country receiving a certificate of ownership of each tree.

Anyone with that certificate was - at the time - encouraged to come and visit 'their' tree. It was a process that was supposed to have been aided with the simple use of specific markers and grid references. Last night, however, an audit into the project by the management committee set up to run it has noted that just 10pc of the trees planted will survive.

The report also attacks the public's 'confused' perception of what the whole project was about. It wasn't about single trees - as Ahern had said it was all those years ago - but actually about 'forests'.

It bemoans the fact that significant information about it was omitted when it was launched - namely that few trees actually survive. Of the brochure that went to every household with a tree certificate, it states: 'Regrettably, there was no mention of the fact that (in) the process of becoming a mature native forest, natural selection will reduce the original number of trees planted to about a 10th of those planted.'

The authors also admit the destruction of the trees planted as part of the scheme is already under way 'in many cases ' because other species of tree have sprung up 'at the expense of planted material'. The report makes worrying reading for anyone still intent on finding their tree. This is because the process set up to aid people in their endeavours is actually falling apart.

The grids used to locate the trees are 'becoming irrelevant as the years pass,' the report says. The Millennium Forests own website claims 'you can go and see the woodland where your dedicated tree is growing', despite the fact that 90pc of the trees probably won't be there.

There is a new system that allows people to now only see 'the general location of their tree'. In response to growing confusion, The Woodlands League has launched a Where's My Tree campaign.

The group is calling for an independent audit of the scheme by local communities, assisted by The Woodlands League and other conservationists.

Conservationist Andrew St Ledger said:
'If you want a shining example of forest mismanagement, you should look no further than Coillte. 'This Millennium Forests project was a farce from the start, not least because there is always going to be a percentage of trees that will never survive - no matter what you do.

'We also have reports of long established oak trees being uprooted to make way for oak saplings. 'The method Coillte employs is also questionable. They use bulldozers and JCBs in most cases instead of shovels and this leads to heavy compaction of the earth.

It is little won-dethat so many trees will die - never mind the natural selection process.

From what we have seen of a few of these forests, they are just wild, mismanaged and not at all the glorious gift to the nation that Bertie Ahern promised 10 years ago.'
He added: 'What is needed now is a full and independent audit. 'The forests where these trees would be planted included Ballygannon and Shelton in Co. Wicklow and Rosturra and Derrygill in Co. Galway. Other are Muckross and Rossacroo in Co. Kerry, Derrygorry in Co. Monaghan and Lough Gill in Co Sligo. Mr Ahern had promised 'a lasting Millennium legacy that will be a source of enjoyment and inspiration for present and future generations well into this new Millennium'.

Now, it seems, we - the public - have got it all wrong.The internal audit attacks how the project was promoted. It states: 'There is a somewhat con-fuse public perception of what the project has been trying to achieve. Most public comment is about the tree rather than the forest.
'Households - who bother - are looking for their individual tree and this is impacting negatively upon how the public views this project.' The report acknowledges that on the original certificates, there was no mention of the fact that 'the tree is part of a forest'.

It recommends that from now on mention of 'Millennium Trees' should be changed to 'Millennium Forests' as 'this would help move attention from individual trees to the forest'.
Indeed, while certificates originally stated that the 'tree' would be planted in perpetuity, it was noted last night how a recently revamped section of the Coillte website blows a somewhat different trumpet.
The home page for the whole project now carries the following legend: 'Over 1,500 acres of native Irish woodland has been designed as 16 Millennium Forests dedicated in perpetuity to the people of Ireland'.
Last night, a Coillte spokeswoman insisted the project has been 'an overwhelming success'.

'A shining example of forest mismanagement'
'It's little wonder that so many trees die'

Press Release
Wheres my tree?

Amidst the general ballyhoo surrounding the new Millennium, Coillte, the semi state body set up in 1989 to look after the nation' s forests,announced the setting up of the grandiosely titled,"People's Millenium Forests" Over 1.2 million households in Ireland, were sent a certificate, telling them the particular type of native Irish tree, (the seed gathered, we were told by Irish schoolchildren), being planted in their name, and its location, in one of 16 different chosen woodlands. The certificate alleged ownership "in perpetuity" to each person.

Less than two months ago, buried in the bowels of the McCarthy report, is a recommendation that Coillte be sold - lock stock and smoking barrel - to gain a few bob for the desperadoes in government. This went virtually unnoticed and unreported on amidst the general meltdown, long predicted by anyone with more than two brain cells of the Irish "economy".

If Coillte is sold off this means a Russian oligarch, a Chinese resource hunter or an American pulp paper company, could own one and a half million acres of Irish forests, including mountains, lakes, rivers and some of the Europe's very last raised bogs. The hunting and fishing licenses that Coillte obtained from the old Land Commission estates will be sold as well, and all of these 1.2 million trees, so generously gifted, for ever and ever, to each and all of us.

What's going on? Please help stop this latest fire sale of Ireland's environmental treasures and join the Where's My Tree Campaign?

Take action!
Contact Coillte by email at pr@coillte.ie and ask them where your tree is? and when can you go visit it?
Contact your local elected representatives on this issue as well.

See www.millenniumforests.com for more background info.

The potential buyers, who ever they may be are probably slavering at the thought of getting their hands on some of Ireland's most beautiful wild and ecologically fragile lands, but if you're there with your certificate and your tree - what can they do. Coillte, and its paymaster the Minister for Finance, can't send us all the log factory. Can they?

Where's My Tree?
Write today and support the www.WoodlandLeague.org vision for genuine community native woodlands and a new forestry policy with the emphasis our native trees, for all of the known benefits.

To send us your message of support and any results and pictures of your tree hunt email wheresmytree@gmail.com

Daibhí ÓBruadair

Ted Cook and Andrew St.Ledger are both involved in the promoting of our native trees. This involves tree lore, planting, crafts, history and general information on the benefits of native trees, through the ‘Heritage in Schools’ scheme. Ted Cook has been doing this for over 20 years.

Both are also engaged in widespread national events. These include Heritage Week, Biodiversity days, CELT – Centre for Environmental Living and Training - ‘Weekend in the Woods’, exhibitions of craft and carving at heritage events with Muintir na Coille – Coppice and Allied Trades Association of Ireland, etc.

We aim to share resources and create relationships with other like-minded NGO's and we wish to promote the concept of ‘cooperation’ for which we use the analogy of the wooden barrel, made by coopers, to explain that each part of the barrel is weak on its own and only when it is in the hoop does it have strength. Agenda 21 promotes this idea of partnership and working together as opposed to competition which is the destructive order of today’s economic reality.

One of the members, Ted Cook, pioneered the concept of ‘treestoration’ projects – one of which is in Broadford, Co.Limerick, in a one hectare quarry site which was left to the people of Broadford by Lord Muskerry of Springfield Castle in the 19th century.

The quarry came to be used as a local dump and, as such, became heavily polluted. In the 1990s, local developers wished to build on the site but the community opposed this and exercised their rights via Agenda 21. A plan was created by Ted Cook to convert the quarry into a native tree arboretum as an education resource for the local school, with the added benefit of the power of the trees to clean up the pollution.

First a nursery was established in situ and gradually all twenty native species were groomed for planting on the site. This project became a milennium project and the first flora and fauna count was taken at the start of the project. This count came to 65 species. By 2004 the count had increased to over 400 species with a 15ft canopy. The project has been a huge success in restoring a degraded public space using nature.

The other project was in Omagh, Co.Tyrone, and Ted Cook working as a consultant to the Northern Ireland Woodland Trust, designed a six-acre treestoration project including all twenty native species. This was a cross-community milennium project.

More detail: Ireland simply cannot afford to sell the people’s forests.“Land is the source of all material wealth, from it we get everything we use, or value, whether it be food, clothing, fuel, shelter, metals, or precious stones. "The availability of land is the key to human existence and it’s distribution and use are of vital importance!" (Charles Brickdale, Chief land registrar of England and Wales 1900-1923) Hidden amongst the multiple layers of cutbacks proposed in the recent McCarthy report, is the outrageous suggestion that Coillte, the Irish Forestry Board and its assets which include one and a half million acres of public forests be privatised. The sale of these lands will mean no access for the public to the forest resource, largely created using EU public funds. The State has already sold our gas, oil, minerals, and fishing rights. The Woodland League is a not for profit NGO and we are vehemently opposed to this extremely short-sighted idea which panders only to narrow vested interests. This sale of one tenth of Ireland ’s land mass may include the People’s Millennium Forests along with some of the most valuable remnants of Ireland’s native forests.

These native forests must be kept under public care due to their enormous value for the restoration of our devastated biodiversity (our natural wealth), as we move into an uncertain future. The rest of the forest estate for instance, could be leased to local communities who have been trained to manage them as a sustainable resource providing fuel security, charcoal, raw materials, food, herbs, income from local carbon lock-up among the many other proven benefits of sustainable forest management.The future economic systems will be dependant on the wise use and management of natural resources, The forests and it’s relationship to air, and water that form the one entity are precious vital commodities, that must remain in public ownership to enable the Island to sustain itself as we face into a major recession coupled with the problems associated with Climate Change. Coillte have neglected the forest resource in their care, focusing instead on being the largest land development company during the boom years. Very little of the 300 million euro profits they accumulated over twenty years was invested in the forests nor any dividend paid to the public purse as is the norm with other semi-state bodies. The Woodland League urge the public to contact their elected representatives, the media and trade unions to ensure this essential natural resource remains in public ownership.

We have created an alternative pilot project proposal to sustainably manage our woodlands for the common good. (Please refer to the front page of our website, www.woodlandleague.org The long-term economic benefits of sustainably managed woodlands far outweighs any short-term financial advantage from the sale of this national asset. Relative to the enormity of the national debt, the revenue from this sale would represent a meagre pittance.

The following information is taken from the Friends of the Irish Environment website ( www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org )

Millennium Tree Certificate Scam.
The Millennium Tree Certificates issued to every household in Ireland are a scam forced on the Millennium People's Forest project by the Millennium Committee for political spin.

Material released to Friends of the Irish Environment under the Freedom of Information Act from the Taoiseach's Department shows that the project as proposed by Coillte had no element of individual certificates for every household. The project was planned for the nation as a whole.

The Millennium Committee and Minister Breenan, however, insisted on the issuing of certificates as a condition of an additional £1 million in funding which Ray McSharry requested in September of 1999. As late as March, 2000, Coillte continued to ask IS THERE ANOTHER WAY, suggesting that more than 60% of the certificates would be thrown out, that there would be difficulties in individuals finding their trees. Yet the minutes of a meeting on 23 March show that Minister Breenan informed Coillte that the certificates were an "absolute".

The scientific fact is that of the 1.2 million trees planted, only 5% will survive to maturity because of the thinning necessary in growing broadleaves. Broadleaves are planted at 3,500 to 6,000 stems per hectare to avoid the necessity of pruning and to force upright growth. In a series of thinnings over the years, the trees are progressively selected until there are between 250 and 350 final mature trees per hectare.

In order for the 1.2 million certificates to represent mature trees, more than 25 million would have to be planted. Instead of the proposed core woodland planting of 337 hectares, 6,000 hectares would be required.

As early as July 1999 Coillte warned "the danger of the project being ridiculed by scientists/environmentalists and greens alike "if the project did not stand up to scientific scrutiny. The project, which was intended to educate people about forestry, is instead being grossly misrepresented for quick political gain.

For more information and a larger copy of the leaflet below. Go to www.myspace.com/woodlandleague

Restoring the relationship between people and their native wood lands.
Promoting the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of native wood lands, the most valuable land based habitat for people and biodiversity.

Click here   to go to the People's Millenium Forest web page on Coillte.ie.

You can request a copy of your tree certificate by emailing pr@coillte.ie

Click here   to watch a youtube video called "Where is My Tree?" - "The Kilbride Project".

PLEASE SUPPORT......... THETREEVOLUTION............ Let's try to make Ireland REALLY Green...........

  hazelwood action group sligo
  Menominee Tribal Enterprises
  Tribal Spirit Drumming
  Insight Online Magazine
  Alternatives to Pylons Donegal
  Cara Mask Corrib Water Protection Group
  Dartrey Oaks Campaign
  Chairde Na Coille - Forest Friends Ireland
  GM Free Ireland Network
  Global Vision Consulting
  Centre for Environmental Living and Training (CELT)
  Dublin Homeopathy
  Dublin Herbalist
  Blue - An Talamh Glas
  Book STEPS
  Brehon Law Project
  Shell To Sea
  Irish Seed Savers
  Keep Ireland Open
  Living Earth Apothecary
  Eddie Lenihan - Storyteller
  Sacred Ireland
  Brigit's Garden, Galway
  Planning Matters
  Rossport Solidarity Camp

International Links

  Rainforest Foundation UK
  Timberwatch Coalition South Africa
  Greenwood Earth Alliance
  FERN Belgium
  Silva Forest Foundation Canada
  Pesticide Action Network UK
  GeaSphere South Africa