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Independent.ie

Sunday 4 December 2016

Future's good for Forestry

Export success and increased job creation will help generate greater farm profits this year

Joe Barry

Published 01/02/2011 | 05:00

Our forestry programme could save the taxpayer €220m when complying with our Kyoto targets, although the country faces a serious
shortage of wood supplies
Our forestry programme could save the taxpayer €220m when complying with our Kyoto targets, although the country faces a serious shortage of wood supplies
Our forestry programme could save the taxpayer €220m when complying with our Kyoto targets, although the country faces a serious shortage of wood supplies

Good news can be hard to find these days, but forest owners in Ireland last year achieved record prices for their wood from thinning and clear-felling. This welcome boost to farm forestry was achieved despite the construction industry remaining firmly in the doldrums.

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Most of our sawn timber and the output from our board-mills is now exported and the timber industry has made great strides in exporting so much material which would have been sold into the home market during the construction boom years.

Remarkably, over the past 18 months wood prices paid to timber growers in Ireland have more than doubled.

In fact, this summer the sawmilling sector was unable to source sufficient wood from Irish forests to meet the demand. As a result, large quantities of roundwood were imported from Scotland to top up our supplies.

Longford brothers Mike and Pat Glennon, of timber processing firm Glennon Brothers, were named Industry Entrepreneur of the Year at last year's Ernst & Young Awards, a clear indication of the export success of our sawmilling industry.

All of this confirms the importance of forestry as a farm enterprise, one that will continue to provide both jobs and a reliable income for farmers who have availed of the afforestation schemes.

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The Irish Government has spent around €90m on buying carbon credits and it is estimated that our forestry programme could save the taxpayer €220m over the five years to 2012 in terms of complying with Ireland's Kyoto targets.

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Ireland faces a critical shortage in wood supply and forest contractors, sawmillers, the ITGA, the IFA, forestry consultants and others in the industry are upbeat regarding future prices.

This shortage is set to grow to more than 1.5m cubic metres per annum within the next eight years.

The forestry sector will also make a major contribution to our economy in both planting new forests and harvesting its wood resource through the thinning of its existing private woodlands.

In 2008, economic output from the wider forest and timber industry was calculated at €1.89bn, or just under 1pc of GDP. The figures for this year should easily exceed this.

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