Forestry in Ireland Overview

A native woodland establishment site, Ballycoyle, Co. Wicklow under Sustainable Forest Management guidlines
Courtesy NPWS

The first global consensus on forest principles within a sustainability context was addressed and formed in an Agenda (Agenda 21,) which was established at the Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments.

The Agenda consists of four programme areas (in chapter 11) that are concerned with combating deforestation, which in effect outline an action plan for sustainable forest management. These programme areas include:

  • The multiple roles and functions of all types of forests

  • Protection, sustainable management and conservation of all types of forests

  • Forest good and services

  • Capacity-building

Commitments were made (that were non legally binding) by individual countries to apply the Forest Principles, following the Earth Summit. These commitments led to further developments in Europe such as the General Declaration and the Helsinki Accord Resolutions which resulted from the Second Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, held in 1993. Resolution H1 General guidelines for sustainable forest management” and H2General guidelines for conservation of biological diversity of forests in Europe” were the first two sets of guidelines that outlined Europe's approach to the promotion of sustainable forest management practices (SFM).Sustainable Forest Managment was described in the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in1993 as:

"The stewardship and use of forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems”. (NPWS, 2017).

The concept of SFM has now been adopted by many countries around the world, including Ireland, and is one of the main principles leading forest management today.

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