The Green Economy Foundation has developed through more than a decade of work as the Irish Natural Forestry Foundation (INFF). Our work as INFF had extended beyond the reach of a forestry based organisation, so in 2016 we decided to better reflect our work and areas of expertise and to rebrand the organisation as the Green Economy Foundation.
The INFF was founded by Ian Wright in 2002. Forest policy in Ireland was promoting an unsustainable and aggressive afforestation programme with a target of planting 17% of the country with trees by 2035 (See ‘Growing for the Future’ 1996). This policy, encouraging the planting of large monocultures of non–native conifers designed for clearfell, led to a range of environmental and social failings.
The role of INFF, when founded, was to campaign for a robust, inclusive and sustainable forestry programme. We have campaigned for mixed species afforestation focusing on broadleaf trees; for a clear and fair analysis of the commercial returns from both conifer and broadleaf forestry; for lower-impact woodland establishment; for biodiversity protection during woodland establishment, maintenance and harvesting and many other things.
In 2006 the INFF leased The Manch Estate in County Cork, Ireland. Manch is a private woodland estate of 320 acres including areas of rare ancient woodland, other maturing mixed woodland and the many forestry trials that the INFF has established since 2006. Manch is the centre of all operations for the INFF and more recently for the Green Economy Foundation and is home to the offices and the education and research centres.
The INFF went from strength to strength in its forestry work, but found itself working on a whole variety of other issues as well – soil, biodiversity, rivers, coasts, agriculture, climate change, sustainability, economics and many more. These things are all connected and INFF became the Green Economy Foundation to ensure that these connections are noted and kept at the centre of a practical and sustainable future economy.
The INFF developed three distinct areas of work during its early years: Projects, Education and Policy. The Green Economy Foundation continues with this structure as it works forward to advocate a new economic model with social and environmental sustainability at its heart.