Timber supplies won't meet needs
WOOD supplies from Irish forests will increase sharply over the next 20 years, but severe timber shortages will continue.
Output from Ireland's forests is forecast to increase from 3.8m cubic metres to 6.5m cubic metres by 2028.
However, despite this increase, the current shortfall in Irish timber production is set to grow to more than 1.8m cubic metres a year by 2018.
Speakers at last week's National Forestry Conference pointed out that the forest processing industry was already experiencing difficulties in sourcing sufficient wood deliveries from Irish forests.
The current shortfall is being made up by significant wood imports from Scotland.
According to forecasts, which are due to be released by the National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD), the timber shortfall will have significant implications for the Irish timber industry and the emerging wood energy market.
The Government's targets for renewable energy through biomass will be difficult to achieve from the wood energy sector despite Ireland's ability to grow forests faster than most of the developed world.
The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) is encouraging forest owners to thin their forests and called on the Government to open the support scheme for forestry in order to meet the current and future market demand in the sector.