- Coillte launches ‘BioClass’, a new tool for recording and reporting biodiversity areas of value on the Coillte estate
- Since 2000, Coillte has restored 2,300ha of native forests and 3,300ha of raised bog and blanket bog habitats
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.
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.
Speaking recently 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.
However, it is fair to say that the value of these sites has not always been recognised in a commercial sense. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to facilitate the next steps in the development of our approach to support Ireland’s biodiversity.”
The system categorises biodiversity areas into four BioClasses, they are;
- BioClass 1: Forests and other habitats of outstanding ecological value
- BioClass 2: Forests and other habitats of excellent ecological value
- BioClass 3: Forests and other habitats of good ecological value
- BioClass 4: Forests and other habitats currently of moderate ecological value, but with good potential for restoration or enhancement
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.”
Science and Wildlife TV Presenter, Liz Bonnin who also spoke, highlighted the importance of the commercial sector, investing in natural assets; “Each and every one of us can play a role through changing our habits and behaviours. But corporations and policymakers must step up and lead the way. So, I commend the initiative by Coillte and I’m excited to see what the new ‘BioClass’ project will achieve.”
Botany Professor Jane Stout of Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital, also spoke, 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.”
Coillte manages 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’.