Protest at Dail Eireann, Tuesday 21st May 2013 at 5:30 pm
Now more than ever we need the Irish peoples voice at Dail Eireann. The sale of Coillte's harvesting rights is still imminent. Please spread the word and join us there to stop the traffic on Tuesday 21st at 5.30 pm. Let the Government hear and see NO!! Please help us keep the pressure on. This week is crucial. If on Facebook, do share the Protest Event Page and make sure to invite all your FB friends:
Bring /make posters to get your NO SALE view across LOUD and CLEAR! Thank you.
Dail Eireann Motion on Coillte
Letter of Protest
FSC Forest Standard
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.
Download quotes from various people about the sale of our forests
Plantations are not Forests! - Forests are not Commodities!
Forests are Life
Support the Woodland League Petition
Please Sign this Petition, using the postal code 1234 at www.thepetitionsite.com
To: Michael D Higgins, The President of Ireland, and the Irish Government.
"Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?, Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár"
Daibhí ÓBruadair (circa 1700's), a brehon poet lamenting the loss of the great Irish forests in his famous poem Caoine Cill Chais.
Photo, Hawthorn by Carlene Gildea
What will the Sale and Loss of Ireland's Public Forests actually mean:
Issues associated with the sale of Coillte:
Someone must shout STOP!!!
A culture" the poet W.H. Auden said, "Is no better than its woods."
Please Sign Our Petition at
Thanking you for your support.
See the following Woodland League press releases for further information:
Press Release 27 Aug.pdf - Millenium Woodlands
Ahern's international forestry body could own 7% of Irish land
- Tribune Article December 5, 2010
A note of thanks to all our supporters, and a Happy New Year - The Woodland League
Sunday Mirror Article 2010
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.
The Woodland League accuses Coillte of 'stealth privatisation' of state forests
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 thatoffers 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.
Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the EU Forest Action Plan
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
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.
WHERE'S MY TREE?
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
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 Â¨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'
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?
Contact Coillte by email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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...........
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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)
Blue - An Talamh Glas
Brehon Law Project
Shell To Sea
Irish Seed Savers
Keep Ireland Open
Living Earth Apothecary
Eddie Lenihan - Storyteller
Brigit's Garden, Galway
Rossport Solidarity Camp
Rainforest Foundation UK
Timberwatch Coalition South Africa
Greenwood Earth Alliance
Silva Forest Foundation Canada
Pesticide Action Network UK
GeaSphere South Africa