Jennifer Whitmore, Social Democrat spokesperson for biodiversity, and Holly Cairns TD, spokesperson for Agriculture, have called on Coillte to extend nationwide their recreational and biodiversity initiative for Dublin. Coillte have announced that nine Dublin forests will transition away from commercial activities of felling and replanting cycles towards a model of planting native broad-leaf varieties. The TDs have also written to the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Micheal Creed TD, and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, seeking their support for a nationwide rolling out of the project.

Holly said:

“I was delighted to hear about the Coillte project, it is a long overdue move away from sitka spruce to broad-leaf native varieties that nurture biodiversity and create richer woodlands for families. I am, however, disappointed that it is only occurring in Dublin, this initiative should benefit people across the country. The use of sites which are commercial-only right now would increase our natural and tourism resources. At a time when rural Ireland needs targeted support it is unfortunate that Coillte has begun their project in Dublin.”

Jennifer explained:

“Ireland is the most deforested country in Europe. Our reforestation needs to prioritise the planning of native broad-leaf trees to nurture biodiversity. This would transform current sitka spruce plantations, which are poor habitats for wildlife and less effective carbon sinks, into resources to help address climate change and the biodiversity crisis. Coillte owns almost 60,000 ha in the south-east. Imagine the impact if these were to transition to more sustainable and ecological beneficial areas. These changes would also have significant recreational and educational opportunities for families and tourists who could experience beautiful native woodlands.”

02nd June 2020

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