Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment Ltd. 9 Upper Mount St., Dublin 2. Phone: 01-6425741 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.voiceireland.org Patrons: Darina Allen, Pauline Bewick, Don Conroy, Christy Moore, Dick Warner, Brendan Kennelly, John Feehan, Sr. Mary Minehan. John Gillespie Chair of Coillte Review Group Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Floor 5 East Agriculture House Kildare St Dublin 2 Dear Mr Gillespie, Please find below a submission to the review taking place with regard to Coillte. Coillte Review Coillte was primarily set up to manage the publicly owned element of the national forest estate. Coillte is a very large landowner, and is a state company whose assets were funded by the Irish taxpayer. It should remain a state company, and state forests should be retained in public ownership. Since the formation of Coillte, pressures on our environment, including climatic change and over-exploitation of natural resources, and changing values with regard to our environment, have contributed to the need for a new approach as to how we value, plan and manage the Irish forest estate. The Helsinki Process, to which Ireland has signed up, defines sustainable forest management as: Stewardship and use of lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems. In this changed context, the principal objects with which Coillte was formed should be reviewed to reflect these changed circumstances. The 1988 Forestry Act must be amended to broaden the principal objects of Coillte beyond the purely commercial. Article 12(1)(a) sets out its principal objects in commercial terms, this should be amended to reflect the necessity of meeting environmental and social objectives in addition to commercial objectives. Suggested wording is: Directors: Melinda Byrns O’Brien, Gay Brabazon, Gary Clare Company limited by guarantee. Registered in Ireland no. 275127. Registered office as above. Charity No. CHY13196 12(1)(a) “to carry on the business of forestry and related activities on a commercial basis and in accordance with “best practice” silvicultural practices, with full regard to the consequences of its operations to the environment, amenity, and landscape”. Flexible planning approach is required to meet future climatic challenges. The extent to which the climate will change in coming decades is unknown. A significant portion of the Coillte forest estate was planted on marginal lands such as peatlands, which would be affected by either a drier or wetter climate. Flexibility will be required in planning to provide for measures for either scenario. Policies should provide ecological networks for species movement and colonisation of new areas in the landscape. Coillte is a significant landowner, and so is in a position to make a contribution with regard to enhancing connectivity of habitats in the landscape. This should be done in co-operation with any county biodiversity plans, and any national planning.