The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett, today received a study from COFORD on voluntary private forest certification in Ireland. Forestry certification is a voluntary process for forest owners whereby forests are independently certified according to a defined set of metrics. The study establishes that fewer than 6% of private forests in Ireland are certified and provides a series of recommendations to help increase certification.
Welcoming the publication the Minister said:
“This study on voluntary certification clearly outlines the importance of increasing the area of certified forest in Ireland. While state forests have been certified since 2001 the extent of certification in the private sector remains too low and can be a barrier to market access for those owners. This study outlines a number of recommendations and suggests a series of next steps which are important now for all stakeholders to examine. My Department will also be studying the report. Action is required to increase the area of forest certified in the private sector which requires collective action across a range of stakeholders.”
The two main certification bodies that currently operate in Ireland are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
The Minister continued:
“My Department has provided funding for a number of pilot certification studies in the past and these have provided valuable insights on the practicality of certification, as well as providing templates to assist private owners considering having their forest holdings certified. However, it is clear that more needs to be done by all stakeholders to expand the level of certification needed for full market access. I look forward to examining the next steps in how best to address the recommendations.”
Dr Eugene Hendrick, Chairperson of the COFORD Council stated:
“I would like to acknowledge the voluntary and dedicated work of the COFORD Wood Mobilisation and Forecasting Working Group under its chair. Patrick Murray in bringing forward this report on forest certification, as well the report’s authors, in bringing the study to a conclusion.
The report and its recommendations are very timely as harvesting levels in the private sector are projected to exceed the Coillte level within the coming five years. In the absence of a readily available certification process, and with close on two and half million cubic metres set to flow from private forests, their owners are likely to struggle with market access. The recommendations brought forward in the study as a way forward to facilitate voluntary forest certification should be examined by all stakeholders and the Minister.