Forestry being a very diverse topic touches on many aspects of society and as a result there are many different organisations and stakeholders involved with the sector. This section lists the principal bodies involved with forestry and gives a brief profile of the organisations. The list is not fully comprehensive as many organisations comment on forestry without it being their main focus. Those listed here are those that are most closely associated with the sector.
The Forest Service is a Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that has statutory responsibly for forestry in Ireland and is responsible for setting national forest policy. In addition, it promotes private forestry and administers the State’s forestry grant schemes as well as regulating and controlling tree felling, carrying out and updating the national forest inventory and implementation of EC Directives relating to Forest Reproductive Material, Forest Protection and Wood Packaging. It also promotes forest education and training and research and development.
The Forest Service does not manage the state forests of Ireland but has oversight of Coillte Teoranta which carries out this function.
Coillte Teoranta is a commercial company that manages the state forests of Ireland. It was formed in 1988 through the separation of the forest enterprise and regulatory functions of the then Forest Service. Coillte was established as a commercial company which managed the state forests of Ireland while the restructured Forest Service retained the regulatory and promotional aspects of forestry. Since then, Coillte has developed into Ireland’s largest forest management company managing 445,000ha of state forests, about 7% of the land cover of Ireland. Over the years it has diversified from forestry and has expanded into land based businesses, renewable energy and panel products. Currently it is the main supplier of roundwood for Ireland’s timber processing plants.
COFORD (Council for Forest Research and Development) was established in 1993 as an agency of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with responsibility for promoting and funding forest research and development. Through funding R&D projects and the active dissemination of research results via publications, seminars and field days COFORD played a significant role in providing scientific information that informed and underpinned many forest policies and practices that are in place today.
Since 2009 COFORD ceased to exist as a quasi independent body and its functions were subsumed into its parent organisation, now the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The COFORD Council still exists as a representative body of the forestry sector and advises on the formulation of the national forestry R&D programme titled Competitive Forest Research for Development (also known as COFORD). This programme is now one of the three main R&D programmes managed by the Research Division of DAFM.
Teagasc is the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland. Its Forestry Department provides advisory, promotional and training services to the farm forestry sector in conjunction with the Forest Service. Teagasc also undertakes research to support the developing farm forestry sector. The research programme focuses primarily on the area of broadleaves which are being planted extensively on farms. Topics include tree improvement, propagation techniques and silviculture while a programme on thinning and harvesting technologies appropriate to the farm forestry sector is also underway.
National Parks and Wildlife Service
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is Division of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It is responsible for the protection and conservation of Ireland’s natural heritage and biodiversity. It is responsible for the implementation of national and EU legislation and policies and for the ratification and implementation of the range of international Conventions and Agreements relating to the natural heritage. It manages approximately 5,000ha of broadleaf woodland which are located within the national parks and nature reserves. These woodlands constitute the best of the remaining native woodlands in Ireland.
The NPWS is one of the main statutory bodies that the Forest Service refer applications to in the event that forestry development may impact on important areas for nature conservation (SACs, NHAs, SPAs etc.). In these cases granting of approval to plant, harvest etc is dependent on the NPWS recommendations.
The Heritage Council was established as a statutory body under the Heritage Act, 1995. It is a public body working in the public interest to support jobs, education and heritage tourism in local communities. The Heritage Council complements and builds on the work of other state heritage bodies which have primary responsibility for the care of property in state ownership and the designation of protected areas. The Heritage Council is putting in place infrastructure and networks to enable communities to take responsibility for and participate in the development and conservation of their heritage assets.
The Heritage Council has published a review of Irish forest policy which proposes an alternative vision for forestry based on multifunctionality, valuing all the functions of sustainably managed forests, planning for climate change and the control of invasive alien species.
The Society of Irish Foresters is the professional body of foresters in Ireland. It was founded in 1942 ‘to advance and spread the knowledge of forestry in all its aspects’. It fulfils this role by organising field days, study tours, workshops, lectures and symposia. The Society also publishes “Irish Forestry”, the sole technical publication on forestry in Ireland, a bi-annual newsletter “The Irish Forester”, Policy Position Papers, and other books of both historical and technical interest. The Society represents the interests of more than 700 members, predominantly professional foresters including, through its associate and student membership, a wide cross-section of people involved, or with an interest in the forest and timber industry.
Irish Timber Growers Association
The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) was formed in 1977 to support the development and expansion of the private forestry sector in Ireland and to represent and inform woodland owners. It is now recognised as the national representative body of woodland owners in Ireland. The Association publishes annually the Forestry and Timber Yearbook which is a comprehensive directory of forestry services in Ireland and also contains industry information and forestry statistics. ITGA organizes seminars and field days often in conjunction with other organisations and provides an advisory support service to its members as well as making representations on behalf of private growers.
Irish Farmers Association
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is the main farming organisation in Ireland with a membership of over 87,000 farmers. Farm Forestry is one of its 15 National Committees that identify, analyse and interpret issues facing farmers, and formulate policy and strategy to deal with the challenges. The IFA publish a weekly newspaper the Irish Farmers Journal which is the most widely circulated newspaper in Ireland.
ProSilva Ireland is an organisation comprising forest owners, foresters and others founded to develop and promote close-to-nature forestry practice in Ireland as an alternative to clearfelling.
The number of forestry consultants in Ireland has risen significantly in recent years in response to the increase in private planting. Today the forest sector is serviced by a group of professionals that advise of all aspects of forestry including planning, silviculture, establishment, inventory, harvesting, grants, valuations, insurance, tax issues etc.
Similar to the consultants, the number of forestry contracting firms has also increased greatly in recent years. Contractors provide plant, machinery and labour to carry out a wide range of forestry operations for both the private and state forests including establishment of plantations, timber harvesting, haulage, road building etc. Their representative body is the Irish Forest Contractors Association.
Lists of contractors can be found through the following links: Forestry.ie
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA) was established to represent the broad forest and forest-based business sector. It is the only industry association that represents the sector as a whole and provides mechanisms for collaboration on a sector-wide basis. The IFFPA ensures that government and other key decision-makers recognise the importance and value of the industry to the environment and the economy. As a membership organisation, it works to educate and communicate the potential benefits of forestry and forest products to a wide audience, including government, state agencies, public and consumers.
Wood Marketing Federation
The Wood Marketing Federation (WMF) was established in 1989 to increase the knowledge and understanding of wood. Its mission is to promote wood as a renewable, sustainable and versatile natural material. The WMF is supported by 18 organisations and companies associated with the wood processing sector. It promotes all aspects of wood including wood products, design and usage along with issues such as preservation and standards.
There are a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are associated with the forestry sector. While these organisations have widely different aims and objectives they have a common interest in trees and forests and woodlands in general. They provide a number of important educational functions such as raising awareness of the benefits of trees in the landscape and urban areas, the importance of native species and woodlands, promoting native tree planting, etc. The environmental NGOs provide alternative views on forest policy, particularly concerning the environmental and social aspects and have been advocating a greater emphasis on native woodlands and a more close to nature approach to forestry.
Tree Council of Ireland
The Tree Council of Ireland is an umbrella body for organisations involved in tree planting, management and conservation. Its main role is to promote planting and the care and enjoyment of trees, and does this through working with its members and friends. It also and organises events and tree related activities, publishes literature on trees, manages the national tree records and provides an information service to the public.
An Taisce is the national trust for Ireland which works to conserve and protect Ireland’s built and natural heritage. It is one of a number of prescribed bodies under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. As a prescribed body with a particular interest in the impacts of forests and forestry operations on the environment, the Local Authorities are obliged to refer any forestry development applications that may have an impact on the environment to An Taisce for review and comment; particularly those that affect areas of conservation interest and sites over 70 ha which require and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Crann, named after the Irish word for ‘tree’ is a voluntary organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of trees, hedgerows and woodlands. It produces the Crann magazine for its members which contains articles on trees, wildlife and the environment. It carries out school visits which are an important part of its tree promotional and awareness campaign.
Woodlands of Ireland
The Woodlands of Ireland (WOI) group was established in 1998 to focus attention on Ireland’s native woodlands, to highlight their importance and to secure their long-term sustainability. WOI comprises a Steering Group and a Technical Working group with members representing a wide range of organisations, interests and disciplines including woodland ecology, forestry, research, inland fisheries, woodland owners, consultants, contractors, nurseries etc. WOI developed initial guidelines for the Native Woodland Scheme administered by the Forest Service and has played and important role is providing training for the Scheme. WOI publishes information notes on the various aspects of native woodland management.
Friends of the Irish Environment
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) was formed by a group of environmental activists in 1997 who felt that European law was not being recognised in Ireland and that community groups and individuals needed a way to connect to environmental activists. Acting as a formal structure for a network of volunteers FIE has brought many issues about the infringement of EU Directives etc to the attention of Brussels. FIE has and continues to be a trenchant critic of Irish forest policy. It is also particularly critical of Coillte’s forest management and operations. FIE published a forestry newsletter which is archived at their website:
Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE)
Voice was established in 1997 following the withdrawal of Greenpeace Ireland, VOICE initially took on a mandate of water quality issues but extended this to include climate change issues, water, waste management and forestry.
The main aims of VOICE concern government environmental policy. Their activities include information dissemination, critical analysis and advocacy for long-term sustainable environmental policies. VOICE is actively involved with the development of the Irish FSC Forestry Standard.
The Woodland League is a campaigning organisation that is principally concerned with advocating a close to nature approach to forest management with particular emphasis on the conversion of conifer monocultures to a mixed species and the restoration and expansion of the native woodland resource. It is severely critical of the commercial mandate of Coillte and its management practices.
Other stakeholders include