PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue took place in Dun Laoghaire 12th May 2022
In an interview ahead of the PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue, Dr Dorothy Maxwell, Sustainability Director at Davy Horizons and a moderator at the Stakeholder Dialogue, said, "What I'm most looking forward to at the PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue are practical and informed discussions on the crucial role of forests and certification to support net zero emissions by 2050."
Attendees at the Stakeholder Dialogue were not disappointed in this regard. There was an interesting line up of talks on the day, followed by lively debates. Speakers included Clodagh O'Reilly, Coillte; Conor Fahy, General Manager of ECC Timber Products; John Spittle from Wiehag; Per Bogstad, Responsible Business Programme Manager at Kingfisher Plc; Tomás Sercovich, CEO of Business in the Community Ireland and Dr Pablo van der Lugt, Lecturer in bio-based building at Delft University in the Netherlands, and author of 'Tomorrow's Timber'.
Tomorrow's Timber Starts Today - Dr Pablo van der Lugt
ITGA call for Carbon payments for landowners who plant trees
The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) have made a further call for a mechanism to facilitate Carbon payments for landowners in Ireland who plant trees. This call follows recent research findings in papers co-authored by Dr David Styles of NUI Galway which highlight the significant role forestry can play in assisting Ireland achieve Carbon neutrality.
ITGA have made the case that woodland creation and sustainable forest management should be a source of income for growers through their carbon storage capability. This possibility is a reality in the UK, through their Woodland Carbon Code which provides reassurance about the carbon savings that companies can achieve by being associated with woodland planting projects. A Forest Carbon Code could be established in Ireland which would provide a quality assurance standard for woodland and tree planting projects and generate independently verified carbon units. Such units could then be sold to companies and others who wish to show that they are mitigating their Carbon emissions through Voluntary Carbon Offsets.
Donal Whelan of the Irish Timber Growers Association stated that, 'there is now a large worldwide market for such Voluntary Carbon Offsets and Ireland will miss out on this opportunity if we don’t establish such a credible and verifiable Forest Carbon Code'.
With the European Green Deal which aims to protect, conserve, and enhance the EU's natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts, those who plant trees and woodlands should be enabled to secure additional income for storing carbon. Afforestation, agro-forestry, and other tree planting initiatives can accommodate these aims and in so doing also complement other farming activities.
The EU Commission has the objective of making the EU the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. With this aim, it's Farm to Fork Strategy highlights the example of a "new green business model", where farmers who remove CO2 from the atmosphere and contribute to climate neutrality should get rewarded.
'There is real potential for afforestation, agroforestry and other tree planting schemes to potentially sell additional voluntary carbon offsets to remunerate our landowners for planting trees and woodlands with all the additional environmental and ecological benefits this would also provide'.
ITGA are now calling for a Forest Carbon Code to be established in Ireland supported by Government that will facilitate such a credible Voluntary Carbon Offsets scheme for tree planting.
ITGA Template Tree Sales Agreement
Private grower are now selling more timber from their forests and the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) is currently updating and revising the ITGA Template Tree Sales Agreement which contains best practice and standard procedures in timber harvesting and timber sales.
Forest owners and buyers can adapt this template to a particular timber sale. The template agreement is structured under various headings for clarity and ease of use.
The terms and conditions are designed to cover a range of potential sale situations and forest types and include definitions, warranties, payment terms, rights of access, harvesting operational procedures and controls, indemnity and insurance, compliance, risk, health & safety issues, environmental conditions, force majeure and an arbitration clause.
In the recent past the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have circulated this Template Tree Sales Agreement with Tree Felling Licences to assist growers in the thinning, felling and sale process. It is always prudent to use a good contract and get professional forestry and relevant legal advice before embarking on a timber sale.
The current Template Tree Sales Agreement is available from the ITGA website (www.itga.ie) and is widely employed. The use of this template agreement in timber sales is considered best practice and has been approved as certification compliant. It has also been one of the mandatory topics of the DAFM funded Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) since the roll out of the KTG programme in 2018.
It now requires updating and revision to ensure continued compliance with current legislation, DAFM requirements, forest certification and new environmental requirements.
ITGA recently received funding from DAFM under the Woodland Support Projects 2021/2022 to undertake the revision of the ITGA Tree Sales Agreement and is consulting and seeking comments, observations and suggestions on it’s updating and revision.