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Research highlights environmental importance of forestry

Champion Chatter

RESEARCH carried out on behalf of Coillte shows that there is an almost universal view among the public that forests are important in helping to address the climate crisis.

In April this year, Coillte, the semi-state forestry company, announced a new forestry strategic vision which aims to deliver multiple benefits from its forests and bring more focus to climate action, setting ambitious new targets on biodiversity and recreation, while continuing to deliver for the forest and wood products industry.

The new approach aims to sustainably balance and deliver the multiple benefits from Irelands state forests across four strategic pillars: climate, wood, nature, and people.

RED C independently analysed feedback from both Coilltes public attitude survey and Coilltes public consultation process, completed during summer 2022, which was part of Coilltes commitment to consult widely with key stakeholders on its new strategic vision.

The survey, conducted among a nationally representative sample of adults in June 2022, was combined with the response to Coilltes public consultation process, and shows there is an almost universal view that Irish forests are important in helping to address the climate crisis.

There is a strong degree of support for planting more trees and increasing forest cover with four in five Irish adults in the RED C survey agreeing with this, while support is even higher in the public consultation.

In terms of climate mitigation, there is overwhelming support for planting trees such as broadleaves that provide a long-term store of carbon. There is also strong support for conifers among the general public, with 75% of respondents agreeing that planting conifers that grow quickly and capture carbon at a high rate, is important for climate mitigation.  Opinions on conifers are more polarized among respondents to the public consultation.

While 45% of those who responded to the public consultation believe Coilltes ambition to create 100,000 hectares of new forests by 2050 doesnt go far enough, 44% of the general public believe this ambition is just about right.

The majority agree with Coilltes ambition to redesign – rewetting or rewilding – peatland forests where they present a significant carbon emission risk.

Imelda Hurley, Chief Executive, Coillte, said the survey results are encouraging.

We are very encouraged by the feedback from the Irish public, from both the RED C public attitude survey we commissioned and the public consultation process, which is overall very positive regarding our new forestry strategic vision and endorses our view that we are moving in the right direction,” she said.

“We developed our new vision based on our belief in Coilltes ability to contribute positively to the climate crisis.  We have always managed our forest estate as sustainably and effectively as possible, and now we are keen to further enhance our contribution, with clear ambitions for afforestation, biodiversity, and developing more great spaces for people to enjoy.  Equally, it is very important that we maintain our focus on delivering sustainable wood products and that Coillte remains financially strong, in order to effectively deliver our new vision.”

Coillte has said that the public attitude survey, public consultation and ongoing stakeholder engagement will be considered as part of the development of Coilltes strategic vision.

Fiona McGarry
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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at [email protected] or telephone 065 6864146.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at [email protected] or telephone 065 6864146.

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