Enviro – 12th March 2018

On this edition of Enviro:

The Theme of this program was to examine in depth “What’s wrong with Irish Forestry”.
The program outlined and discussed the findings of interns Lauren Auer, Vincent Tchavouchian and Rebika Rai. Their analysis included the practice of the use of carcinogenic pesticides, unsustainable monoculture plantation forestry, the acidification of water courses, the failure to integrate Irish forest policy with agricultural practices, the family farm, i.e. agroforestry. Agroforestry combines the growing of trees with complementary agricultural enterprises in the same fields.

  • The program went on to define best practice in sustainable forestry and made an assessment as to whether the Irish government is making moves in the direction of best practice in sustainable forestry. Best practice should provide for the integration of the principles of Sylvaculture, i.e. achieving the best arrangements and variety of species based on sound ecological principles; Agroforestry, i.e. Integrating forestry with agriculture; and Permaculture, i.e. A system of agricultural and social design principles cantered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture was developed and coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. Twelve principles of permaculture have been identified, ref. http://www.timberpress.com/blog/2013/02/12-principles-of-permaculture/

Some encouraging signs: The government has approved new enhanced forest establishment and support grants in order to make the planting of broadleaf trees more attractive to farmers, for example a 5% premium increase for broadleaves and diverse conifers. Agroforestry payments will increase from €260/ha to €625/ha for the first five years under the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 forestry programme.

In contrast to Irish broadleaf trees which are predominantly hardwoods, conifer plantations:

  1. Cut out light to the forest floor so that natural flora and fauna are excluded or severely retarded.
  2. Acidify water courses thus damaging spawning grounds in water courses.
  3. Provide for very limited biodiversity
  4. Fail to provide for continuous canopy woodlands, thus failing to provide for easy passage of wildlife at canopy level.
  5. Result in the importation of significantly higher per capita imports of hardwoods from abroad.

Presenter/Producer- John Haughton
Panellist- Joe Dunne
Research team: Lauren Auer, Vincent Tchavouchian and Rebika Rai who are at present interns with Forest Friends Ireland.