FOCS and NEFG forest owner groups in certification pilot project

There was a large attendance of private forest owners at the public information evening on ‘Getting your Forest Certified’ recently hosted by the Forest Owners Co-operative Society (FOCS) in Macroom.

Members of FOCS expect that their forests will be certified to FSC standard within two years. 

They are engaged in a pilot project, with the support of the Forest Service and in association with North Eastern Forestry Group (NEFG), that will result in member forests being certified to the highest industry standard.

At the Macroom meeting, Forest Service Inspector Eugene Curran explained the origins and development of timber certification, first introduced to counter the destruction of environmentally valuable rainforest.

It is a means of assuring consumers that a wood or paper product comes from forests managed in accordance with strict environmental and social standards.

Conor McSwiney of GP Wood said markets for processed timber demand certification, and all large processors and users of wood products in Ireland subscribe to certification.

At present, up to 30% of logs can be sourced from uncertified forests, to meet the least stringent certification requirements, but this percentage is set to reduce. 

He said the industry needs private forests to be certified, and group certification is the only viable option, which is one of the advantages of being in a forest owner group.

Karl Coggins, Forest Service, said a sample of FOCS and NEFG member forests are being used as the nucleus for development of two large certifiable groups.

This will lead to development of a template and delivery system for FSC certification, and a gateway to certification for private owners throughout Ireland.

He said Knowledge Transfer Groups, like those operating in other agricultural sectors, will be a vital support to the growth of group certification, and general awareness of good forest management. 

FOCS member Michael Greaney from Cloyne in Co Cork said it is a fantastic achievement for FOCS and NEFG to have met standards set by the Forest Service and be selected in the certification project.

For more information, see www.focs.ie

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