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National Parks And Wildlife Service Powerless To Stop Wildlife Destruction In Protected Areas

category national | environment | press release author Wednesday May 18, 2016 21:20author by Tony Lowes - Friends of the Irish Environmentauthor email admin at friendsoftheirishenvironment dot org Report this post to the editors

Friends of the Irish Environment - Press Release 18th May 2016

The National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] does not have the power to stop the Forest Service permitting forestry felling during the breeding season, even in an area designated for protection under European law.

This has emerged in controversy over the felling of trees at Castleforbes Estate, County Longford, where the local NPWS staff’s request for permission to stop the felling was denied by the Regional Manager of NPWS, who stated that ‘NPWS cannot stop such works and that is in the remit of the Forest Service.’

PRESS RELEASE FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT 18 MAY 2016

The National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] does not have the power to stop the Forest Service permitting forestry felling during the breeding season, even in an area designated for protection under European law.

This has emerged in controversy over the felling of trees at Castleforbes Estate, County Longford, where the local NPWS staff’s request for permission to stop the felling was denied by the Regional Manager of NPWS, who stated that ‘NPWS cannot stop such works and that is in the remit of the Forest Service.’

The ancient woodland, first recorded in the 17th century, is protected as an Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive on the shores of the Shannon by Lough Forbes and is a haven for wildlife. Emails released to an environmental group under Access to Information on the Environment show that bats, badgers, pine martens, two breeding buzzards, suspected breeding woodpeckers, breeding red squirrels, breeding ravens and many other species of breeding countryside birds (black cap, missalthrush, etc,)’ were present with ‘merlin recorded on the bog adjoining the woodland.’

Local staff only became aware of new licenses when felling began in February of this year. They were not consulted during the license application process by the Parks and Wildlife Service administration. The District Conservation Officer wrote that he ‘totally agreed’ with the local staff who felt ‘undermined and embarrassed by the manner in which this application was handled by the NPWS’. He urged the Regional Manager to contact the Forest Service ‘in the hope that we can moderate the damage and deflect the bad publicity that will certainly be directed at us.’

A complaint from Friends of the Irish Environment on 4th April 2016 after the closed season for protection of breeding animals had begun to the Forest Service led to the suspension of felling but permission was given for the felling to continue 10 days later

Subsequent formal request under the legislation by the NPWS to the Forest Service on 28 April and 9 May 2016 have been ignored and work is continuing. Last week FIE published photographs of dead birds and their nests on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheIrishEnvironment/

The files also show that the original 2015 licence was for thinning only for ‘firewood’ with a condition prohibiting the felling of oaks. However, a Report drafted by the NPWS in response a Parliamentary Question by James Bannon, TD in December 2015 revealed that ‘most beech’, ‘some ash’, and ‘some oaks’ were in fact removed, stating ‘most oaks trees selected were between 60 and 80 years old, with the occasional older tree.’ The Report was never provided to Deputy Bannon and has not been made public until it was released under this request by FIE.

While an ecological survey was required for the licences by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the files show that this was never undertaken due to a ‘lack of resources’.

Tony Lowes of FIE said that while ‘the Estate wishes to reinstate the woodland to as close to primeval woodland as possible, under the guise of ‘Continuous Forest Cover’ and ‘Low Impact Silivicutural System’, these unique woodlands are being stripped of specimen redwoods, oaks, and ash of the finest quality and the wildlife decimated through a breakdown in the nature conservation system in Ireland.’

‘The function of forest agreed under the Convention for Biodiversity requires Ireland ‘to bring about a measurable improvement in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by forestry.’

‘Ireland is a repeat offender when it comes to failure to assess impact on SACS. The EU Court of Justice has ruled against Ireland before on very similar issues and the Commission will be very unimpressed to see the law flouted and the environment blatantly damaged in this way.’

The areas chosen as SAC in Ireland cover an area of approximately 13,500 sq. km. Roughly 53% is land, the remainder being marine or large lakes.

Clearance and felling operations are continuing in the woodlands this week.

Contact: Tony Lowes 353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771

EDITORS NOTES

While the original Thinning Licenses issued in 2014 had a condition preventing disturbing the breeding place of a protected species during the closed period, the Parks and Wildlife Service returned the subsequent two 2015 Felling licences to the Forest Service with no requests for conditions.

After complaints, the NPWS issued a formal letter to the Forest Service on 28 April under Regulation 4 of the EC (Forest Consent and Assessment) Regulations recommending that no work take place between 1 April and 1 September. When work continued nonetheless, the letter was reissued on 9 May, 2016. Clearance and felling in the woodland are continuing nonetheless.

ENDS

Friends of the Irish Environment is a non-profit company limited by guarantee registered in
Ireland.

It is a member of the European Environmental Bureau and the Irish Environmental Network.

Tel & Fax: 353 (0)27 74771 / Hotline: 087 2176316
Email: admin@friendsoftheirishenvironment.org

Registered Office: Kilcatherine, Eyeries, Co Cork, Ireland. P75 CX53 Company No. 326985.

Website:
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheIrishEnvironment/

author by foiepublication date Mon May 23, 2016 22:33author address author phone 353 (0)87 2176316Report this post to the editors

PRESS RELEASE FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT 23 MAY 2016

Felling Stopped In Ancient Woodland

The Department of Agriculture has informed an environmental group that all forestry felling work is being halted at Castleforbes Estate, County Longford until the end of the season protecting birds and wildlife on 1 September, 2016.

After a complaint from Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] on 4th April 2016 to the Forest Service, operations were ceased on site but were resumed 10 days later after an official inspection.

FIE then wrote to the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Rural Affairs, and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries, TD, the Minister in charge of the Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS], accusing the Department of using ‘double standards’, highlighting the recent judgement by Judge Seamus Hughes of the Longford District Court who fined two men €250 for destroying vegetation during the closed period imposed to protect birds and other wildlife between March 1 and August 31.

'Farmers are rightly required to go to considerable lengths to ensure they do not cut hedgerows during the closed period, even to incurring additional cost for machinery equipped to deal with wet land, while the Department's own Forest Service issued two felling licenses at the historic Castleforbes Estate in County Longford without any restrictions for nature conservation.’

Documents released to FIE from the NPWS under Access to Information on the Environment show that the original 2015 licence was for thinning only for ‘firewood’ with a condition prohibiting the felling of oaks. However, a Report drafted by the NPWS in response a Parliamentary Question by James Bannon, TD on 2 December 2015 revealed that ‘most beech’, ‘some ash’, and ‘some oaks’ were in fact removed, stating ‘most oaks trees selected were between 60 and 80 years old, with the occasional older tree.’ The Deputy never received the promised response to his Parliamentary Question.

Local NPWS staff only became aware of new 2016 licenses when felling began in February of this year and were not consulted during the license application process by the NPWS administration. The NPWS District Conservation Officer wrote that he ‘totally agreed’ with the local staff who felt ‘undermined and embarrassed by the manner in which this application was handled by the NPWS’. He urged the Regional Manager to contact the Forest Service ‘in the hope that we can moderate the damage and deflect the bad publicity that will certainly be directed at us.’

A request from the local NPWS staff for permission to stop the felling was denied by the Regional Manager of NPWS, who stated that ‘NPWS cannot stop such works and that is in the remit of the Forest Service.’

As work continued further into the restricted season, NPWS issued a recommendation under Regulation 4 of the Forestry Consent and Assessment Regulations to the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service requesting that a condition be placed on the licence preventing work during the restricted season. The letter was sent 24 April 2016. It was resent on 8 May as work had not ceased.

In his response to FIE’s letters, the Minister’s Private Secretary wrote on 18 May, 2016 that the Forest Service did not require an assessment before granting the licences because it was determined at the screening stage ‘that the proposed work would not have a significant effect on either the Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive or the Special Protection Area for Birds.

NPWS made a full ecological survey a condition of the licenses but the records show that this was dropped for ‘lack or resources’ While the NPWS had made an ecological survey a condition for the original licence, the files show that this was never undertaken due to a ‘lack of resources’.

The documents released from the NPWS show that the Parks and Wildlife Service have confirmed two breeding buzzards, suspected breeding woodpeckers, bats, badgers, pine martens, breeding red squirrels, breeding ravens and many other species of breeding countryside birds (black cap, mistel thrush, etc,)’ with ‘merlin recorded on the bog adjoining the woodland.’

The letter of 18 May from the Minister for Agriculture informs the group that it has been agreed on the ground between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service that felling will be suspended until September.

Tony Lowes of FIE said that while ‘the files show the owners of the Estate wish to reinstate the woodland to as close to primeval woodland as possible, under the guise of ‘Continuous Forest Cover’ and ‘Low Impact Silivicutural System’, these unique woodlands are actually being stripped of specimen redwoods, oaks, and ash of the finest quality and the wildlife decimated through a breakdown in the nature conservation system in Ireland.’

‘Ireland is a repeat offender when it comes to failure to assess impact on SACS. The EU Court of Justice has ruled against Ireland before on very similar issues and the Commission will be very unimpressed to see the law flouted and the environment blatantly damaged in this way.’

ENDS

Contact: Tony Lowes 353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771

Letter from the Minister confirming work stopping
friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/minister_stop_castleforbes_18.05.16.pdf

Letter to the Minister for Agriculture
friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/ministercastleforbes_07.05.16_MC.pdf

Letter to the Minister for Heritage
http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/mini...6.pdf

author by Ruapublication date Wed Jun 01, 2016 08:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Im not a treehugger(maybe i am one of sorts) but It is an absolute tragedy what is happening to our green areas and animal habitats all over the world - we must stop the GREED and human expansion into these areas....Why do human ''needs'' come before animal needs?Why do we need to keep expanding into animal areas,for raw materials?Human overpopulation is the answer,and until we actually FACE the problem of Human overpopulation,we will NEVER address these issues with honesty and tact....They hide behind reasons like ''we need to thin the trees'' but really what this is - is total destruction of a wildlife area,some of these oak trees have been around for a 100 years!

author by Rational Ecologistpublication date Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A 100-year old oak is only a teenager. Some have a 1000-year lifespan. Thinning Spruce, mono-crop plantation is way different to the destruction/removal of old, native woodlands.

 
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