Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle, today congratulated the North East Forestry Group and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society, at a function in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, on achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.
Forest certification is a voluntary process used by forest owners to reassure consumers that the wood and wood products they buy come from sustainably managed forests. Certification independently assesses forest management planning and practices against a sustainable forest management standard. Barriers to forest certification for private forest owners include the cost and complexity of achieving this accreditation.
The Minister of State outlined that
The lack of certification, and difficulties in gaining it, are obstacles that have to be addressed if we are to get a return, and maximise the return, from our forests
citing the investment by the State of over €3 billion in increasing forest cover in Ireland since the 1980s involving some 22,000 land owners.
The presentation of the certification was the outcome of a project initiated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in 2016, arising from its decision that the best approach to addressing barriers to private forest owners achieving forest certification was to establish two certification groups where costs can be shared and develop a template to assist foresters in helping their clients achieve certification.
Minister of State Doyle noted that an important step in the project was the award of a tender, in November 2016, to a consortium led by Commercial Forestry Services Ltd., in partnership with The Forestry Company, UK Forest Certification Ltd. and the Soil Association Certification Ltd (UK). He also advised that the key contributors to the project were the two participating forestry groups - the North East Forestry Group & the Forest Owners Co-operative Society and he commended and thanked all those involved in the delivery of the project.
Commenting that Ireland’s forest products sector is export driven with overseas markets demanding certified timber, he commented that
It is vital for Ireland’s forest industry and the potential for growth that exists within this sector, that access to these markets is maintained.
He emphasised the need for certification of private forests to become a priority for private forest owners and the sector as a whole.