Irish Wildlife Trust: ‘Plantation forestry is a disaster’

“Plantation forestry is a disaster” according to the campaigns officer of the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT).

Padraic Fogarty of the IWT has voiced his concerns on plantation forestry in response to forestry stakeholders, who said that “ill-informed NGOs” were “berating the growing of commercial forestry”.

Fogarty outlined that he believes there is another way.

We can have a forestry system that produces multiple benefits to wildlife, water and jobs; but the monoculture model does not really provide these things.

He believes that the IWT was “likely among the ‘misinformed’ NGOs” mentioned by some forestry stakeholders.

He added: “We don’t feel like we are an ill-informed NGO. The IWT has been involved in the debate about forestry for decades.”

Fogarty outlined that the main concern of the IWT is that monoculture is very harmful to the environment and said it would rather see a forestry programme that recognises the multiple benefits of growing native woodland over such monocultures.

He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified plantations as “one of the most significant threats to water quality” and called them a “time bomb of a pollution problem”.

“This is because many of them are planted in mountainous areas with peaty soil and once they are clear felled, an awful lot of sediment is going to wash into rivers, and sediment is one of the huge pollutants in our rivers,” he explained.

Continuing, Fogarty said: “One alternative way is to create areas of natural woodland that will be woodland in perpetuity.

This would be to the benefit of the community and wildlife. The other way is in what is called ‘continuous cover forestry’.

He explained: “This is where you are growing trees for timber in harmony with the environment, and you’re not going in clearing the whole forest.”

The IWT will celebrate its 40th birthday next year and its goal is to raise awareness of the importance of the natural world.