Coillte is encouraging the people of Wicklow to enjoy their local forests over the winter months as 86% of survey respondents say forests are important for physical and mental health and wellbeing.
A total of 81% of the Irish public believe Ireland needs to grow more trees to help combat climate change, according to a recent Red C Research survey commissioned by Coillte, the semi-state forestry company.
Furthermore, 86% of those surveyed agree that getting out into nature and exploring their local forest has a positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, while 82% believe forests are important for nature and biodiversity, which is central to Coillte’s strategic vision.
Of all respondents, 74% agree that having a mix of trees, such as conifers that grow quickly and capture carbon at a high rate, along with broadleaves that provide a long-term store of carbon, is important for climate action. In terms of tackling climate change, the majority surveyed (66%) are in favour of using Irish wood as an alternative building material to high-carbon materials such as concrete and steel.
Speaking about the survey, Ken Sweeney, Regional Manager Coillte, said, “Our survey shows that a large majority of people in Ireland agree that forests are important for people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. We are encouraging the people of Wicklow to explore their local Coillte forests over the coming months, especially during the festive season, and spend time reconnecting with nature. Wicklow has a range of beautiful Coillte forests for people to enjoy, including Avondale Forest Park, The Devil’s Glen and Trooperstown.”
The survey findings support Coillte’s forestry strategic vision which aims to deliver multiple benefits from its forests and bring more focus to climate action, with ambitious targets on biodiversity and recreation, while continuing to deliver for the forest and wood products industry. The focus of Coillte’s vision is on sustainably balancing and delivering the multiple benefits from Ireland’s state forests across four strategic pillars: Climate, Wood, Nature, and People.
Coillte’s forestry strategic vision, announced last year, is designed to optimise its contribution to Ireland’s climate targets, and includes a range of actions aiming to capture approx. 28m tonnes of CO2 from the environment by 2050. Actions include:
- Coillte aims to enable the creation of 100,000 hectares of new forests by 2050, half of which will be native woodlands, thereby enabling the sinking of 18m tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
- Coillte will manage its existing forest estate to capture an additional 10m tonnes of CO2 by 2050;
- Coillte plans to produce 25 million m3 of certified Irish timber, to support the construction of 300,000 new homes in Ireland by 2030. It will also promote the use and benefits of wood products to increase the level of timber homes from 20% to 80% by 2050;
- Coillte intends to enhance and restore biodiversity by increasing the area of the forest estate being managed primarily for nature from 20% to 30% by 2025 and to 50% in the long term,
- Coillte plans to enable the investment of €100 million to create world class visitor destinations to support growth in tourism and recreation by 2030. In addition, it will double the number of recreation areas nationally to 500, to benefit local communities and peoples’ wellbeing.
- New strategic vision will be underpinned by Coillte’s commercially successful business and aims to enable the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect jobs in rural communities to support the just transition to a low carbon economy in Ireland.
Coillte is responsible for the management of 440,000 hectares of Ireland’s forests, which represents 7% of the country. Since its establishment in 1989, it has enabled the development of a vibrant forestry and wood products sector that supports rural employment throughout Ireland. While sustainability has always been central to the way in which Coillte manages the forest estate, Coillte believes that the growing climate and biodiversity crises, as well as societal demands for housing, jobs and wellbeing, are driving a need for greater change.
For further information visit www.coillte.ie.