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Coillte Forestry Fables In Regard To Tree Felling At Gougane Barra Heritage Site
Tuesday August 26, 2014 15:05 by Woodland League - The Woodland League
For Release on Friday 22nd August, 2014
Press Release - Woodland League
The public amenity forest at Gougane Barra, co Cork has been clear-felled for no good reason. This is
the claim of an internationally renowned Irish tree-scientist and a number of Irish NGOs.
In January 2014, Coillte, the Irish Forestry Board, contended that ‘sudden oak-death’ (Phytophtera
ramorum) had infested the veteran larch trees in the forest and that urgent clear-felling was essential.
Documentary evidence purporting to support this assertion dated July 2013 has been branded tenuous
at best by Diana Beresford-Kroeger the renowned Irish tree-scientist who saw no sign of the disease
while filming in the forest in August of that year.
Diana, who acts as a forestry scientific consultant to the not for profit NGO, The Woodland League,
had received background information including the laboratory documents from the League.
Diana Beresford Kroeger stated "I was in Gougane Barra last August, I did not see the presence of
the cankers of Phytophthora Ramorum, where the internal phloem and young, vigorous xylem
tissue of the trees is killed by this fungal disease. As a scientist I would like to see proof of its
presence, which is easy enough to detect before I express my horror and dismay at the destruction of
the forest at Gougane Barra. Need I add the old timers must have sold at a premium price and now
the shoulders of the mountains are bare and mangled with death and decay. It would not surprise
me if the Irish public were expected to open their purse again to restore the site".
Information from two laboratories was emailed to the Woodland League some months after their initial
urgent request for scientific evidence of the alleged outbreak of ramorum. The independence of that
evidence is questionable in that both laboratories are state-controlled. Coillte, had already felled and
sold the timber, their own laboratory being one of those who confirmed the disease, the other being the
department of Agriculture who regulate the forest sector. The two documents may be accessed here:
Both contain one line statements with a reference code and no senior Plant pathology scientist
signature. This is not proof of disease in Gougane Barra.
Andrew St Ledger, the Woodland League PRO commented, "It is inconceivable that Coillte,
caretakers of the 1.2 million acre Public forest estate, the biggest single land bank are not
accountable to anybody. The self-regulatory nature of Ireland’s Forestry sector, the reliance on non
mandatory guidelines, and complete lack of Independent scrutiny creates a serious environmental
hazard and generates conflicts of interest".
Furthermore, there is no trace of a felling application for the non-larch component of the Glen (i.e.
Sitka and Lodgepole pine), which was also felled, a potential breach of the 1946 Forestry Act.
The Woodland League also allege active concealment within the Department of Agriculture and Coillte
of the extraction of the stand of Western hemlock aged 70 years old within glen Gougane Barra.
Neither Coillte nor the Forest Service did not reveal or disclose they were planning to extract other tree
species from the park. The cultural value of the ancient glen, as a place of historic significance, has
been ignored in the rush for short term profit. The trucks witnessed leaving the site with the timber had
no covering, breaching sanitisation protocols as expressed by the Forest Service and violating Coillte’s
own FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) ecolabel in relation to the FSC's 10 Principles which are used
to measure ecolabel compliance.
EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) are mandatory for timber extractions above 70 hectares.
The Gougane Barra clearance exceeded by far this threshold. That there was no EIA means there was
no public consultation. Thus the primary statutory stakeholders, the Irish Public, have been bypassed -
The Woodland league are joined by two other NGO's with concerns about this serious public issue,
CELT ( Centre for Environmental Living and Training ), and MDEG ( Macroom and District
Environmental Group ) who first raised the alarm about this forest destruction occurring in their
Bob Wilson of CELT said, "The wholesale harvesting by Coillte of many fine, mature trees at this world-renowned site without
proper public consultation, without felling licences and with apparent complete disregard for natural biodiversity is very disturbing.
Excuses of possibly diseased Larch and extensive storm damage have not been adequately shown to be true or accurate.
With Ireland's extremely low area of tree cover, we cannot afford to lose such specimens in such a high-nature-value forest unless it is
absolutely proven necessary".
Ted Cook PRO of MDEG had this to add "It is ironic that the while the state are in the process of
launching a new forestry programme, hailing it as a new vision,"Forests, Products and People", the
Gougane Barra incident reinforces the same old forestry fable, a continuation of the severance of
the people from their forests, unaccountable to local communities or environmental NGO's. We note
the draft of the new plan has increased funding provision for public amenity forests and wonder will
Coillte now be compensated to restore the site with public funding".
Please Contact for more information and quotes...
Andrew St Ledger +353-(0)87-9933157
Ted Cook ( MDEG ) 086878989
Bob Wilson ( CELT ) 0876324644
Cork's Gougane Barra
Forest Park closing due to ... - The Irish Times www.irishtimes.com/.../cork-s-gougane-barra-forest-park-closing-due-to..
Coillte urged to clarify extent of larch disease in Gougane Barra ... www.irishtimes.com/.../coillte-urged-to-clarify-extent-of-larch-disease-in.
Forest service rejects "frenzy of tree-felling" http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/forest-servi...69032
FOREST HEROINE: Tree advocate Diana Beresford-Kroeger sets reforestation sights high