Future's good for Forestry
Export success and increased job creation will help generate greater farm profits this year
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.
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.
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.