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Businesses in Ireland are seeking solutions to meet expanding climate, biodiversity and sustainability commitments, whilst also supporting national objectives. The creation of new native woodlands is of growing interest across business sectors as the drive for natural climate solutions increases.
In May 2019 the Government declared a climate and biodiversity emergency. Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 published soon after, represents a call to action across all of Government and civil society to tackle climate change. The plan underlined the importance of ensuring that the burdens borne in the transition to a low carbon future are seen to be fair and that every group is seen to be making an appropriate and fair level of effort.
Forestry related actions feature prominently in the Climate Action Plan, aimed at tackling both climate change and falling biodiversity. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s new Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) referred to in the plan exemplifies the role forestry can play in addressing these dual challenges. Native woodlands established under this initiative are perhaps the most complex and biodiverse habitats in the country. As well as representing reservoirs of biodiversity, these deliver other important ecosystem services, such as water and soil protection, wider habitat linkage and carbon sequestration. The WEF also provides the ideal vehicle for collaboration between Government and the business community, combining resources and expertise to get behind the national effort to plant 1.5 million native trees each year.
An Post will be the first organisation to commit to the WEF programme, supporting a new native woodland in Galway. Working closely with Natural Capital Partners - a global leader in financing natural climate solutions through collaboration with business – and with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM), An Post will support a new native woodland in Galway, further expanding its ‘Post Eco’ Sustainability Action Plan.
Under WEF, Businesses can be associated with individual native woodlands and use the environmental benefits linked to these forests to demonstrate that they are meeting their responsibilities to the local environment and Ireland’s communities. The WEF ties in with DAFM’s existing afforestation scheme which covers 100% of the cost of establishing native woodlands and also pays an annual premium to the landowner per hectare payable each year for 15 years. The WEF involves an additional once off top up payment per hectare financed by the business to the landowner, and the business retains rights to communicate the action as additional and report the estimated carbon emission reductions from the established forest against its footprint.
The concept of attracting private sector finance into programmes to reforest Ireland’s native woodlands was initially put together by Natural Capital Partners on behalf of its client Microsoft, leading to a large scale native woodland reforestation programme across the country.
Article originally published on Origin Green Ireland.