Coillte highlights the need for long-term investment into key biodiversity sites

Biotech, Business, Technology | Tue 11 Sep | Author – Business & Finance
Liz Bonnin, Biochemist and BBC TV presenter (left) with Aileen O’Sullivan, Coillte Ecologist, and Ciaran Fallon, Head of External Affairs at Coillte (right). Pic. Robbie Reynolds

Coillte launches ‘BioClass’, a new tool for recording and reporting biodiversity areas of value on the Coillte estate

 Coillte, Ireland’s largest commercial forestry and land solutions company, has launched a new innovative classification system that will allow for integrated planning and management of key biodiversity sites across Coillte’s 440,000-hectare estate. Coillte manage approximately 7% of the country’s land and 47% of Ireland’s forests, and operates three businesses – their core forestry business, a land solutions business, and a wood panel manufacturing business called ‘Medite Smartply’.

The ‘BioClass’ system has been designed to categorise key areas of ecological value, from very high to moderate. The tool will enable Coillte to ensure its biodiversity areas are properly managed and resourced.

Botany Professor Jane Stout of Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital, outlined the importance of biodiversity; “Biodiversity – the variety of life on earth – and the processes that occur in living ecosystems provide goods and services on which humanity relies. Forest systems don’t just provide timber and other products, but they sequester carbon, release oxygen, help stabilise soils, and provide a home for other living organisms. Thus conservation of forest biodiversity is important for people and for the planet.”

The need for recording biodiversity areas of value

Speaking today at Coillte’s ‘Biodiversity Seminar’ at The Science Gallery in Dublin, Coillte Chief Executive Fergal Leamy outlined the rationale behind the new ‘BioClass’ system and why this marks a new phase for Coillte and biodiversity in Ireland.

Over the past 29 years, Coillte has been the custodian of some of the most diverse and important biodiversity sites in Ireland, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Coillte has invested significantly into restoring and managing Ireland’s key biodiversity habitats, but we believe more needs to be done to secure the future of these habitats’ longevity.

Coillte Ecologist, Dr Aileen O’Sullivan, who led the design of the BioClass system, explains, “The Coillte estate provides habitat for many plants and animals, and represents a major biodiversity resource. We developed ‘BioClass’ because we needed a tool that enables us to flag important sites, prioritise resources and integrate biodiversity into forest management planning.”