News Release, September 2004

Coillte plans the forests of the future

Coillte today published its fourth stand-alone Social and Environmental Report, which reports progress towards its social and environmental goals, and outlines how it is planning the future of its forests to ensure that they managed sustainably for the benefit of this and future generations.

In the report Coillte Chairman, Brendan McKenna states that Coillte pays close attention to delivering environmental and social benefits that are valued by the Irish people while managing its forests commercially. "In the past few years Coillte has demonstrated that it is possible to manage forest and land resources commercially while providing tangible social and environmental benefits" he said. Coillte publicly committed itself to the principles of Responsible Forest Management Strategy in 1998, and in May 2001, received the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) certificate for good forest management, which acknowledges that the company's forests are managed according to strict social, environmental and economic criteria. Coillte continues to retain this internationally-recognised certificate.

The 2003 report demonstrates the progress made in devising long-term forest management plans for all of Coillte's forests. The forest management plans currently being prepared for the more than 300 forests in Coillte's estate will combine economic, environmental and social objectives and management strategies for individual forests into locally unique long-term plans that will be used as the basis for local consultation, thus ensuring that stakeholders are better informed and consulted about plans that affect them.

Progress in key social and environmental areas during 2003 is also outlined in the report. Social progress reported on includes: Coillte's comprehensive consultation strategy focusing on the operation of one of its 13 nationwide Social and Environmental Panels; the company's 2003 review of its Recreation Policy; and its commitment to community partnerships, including a detailed look at one example in Wicklow.

Key progress in meeting Coillte's commitments to the environment is also outlined including: reports on how 15% of the estate is being managed for nature conservation and how over 1,000 hectares of blanket bog habitat are being restored; details of how the diversity of tree species in Coillte's forests is being increased; how chemical usage is being reduced; and also a comprehensive review of the company's water quality monitoring strategy.

The report also presents social, economic, and environmental data for key parameters from 2001 to 2003 in 10 distinct geographic units, known as Forest Management Units (FMUs). These 10 FMUs account for approximately one-third of Coillte's forests. Data for these same key parameters for 2003 for all of Coillte's 36 FMUs is also presented.

Ends

Additional Information

Forest certification is the process of inspecting particular forests or woodlands to see if they are being managed according to an agreed set of standards.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. To date, greater than 29 million hectares of forest have been certified around the world by FSC.

The FSC's international labelling scheme for forest products provides a credible guarantee that the product comes from well-managed forests. All forest products carrying the FSC logo have been independently certified as coming from forests that meet the internationally recognised FSC Principles and Criteria of Forest Stewardship. The FSC process has the support of major international and national environmental organisations.