Business Farming

Thursday 29 September 2016

Timber volumes to double by 2035: COFORD

Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30

COFORD* has just published an advance version of its latest report, All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035. It shows that the roundwood supply from Irish forests will increase significantly over the next two decades, with almost all of the increase coming from privately-owned forests in the Republic of Ireland and primarily in the larger size assortments.

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The forecast net realisable volume will increase from 3.95 million m3 this year to 7.87 million m3 by 2035. There is a small dip in 2028 but this is followed by an upward trend to the year 2035.

In contrast with the previous forecast in 2011, the thinning volume is now forecast to account for just 22.04 million m3 or 19pc of total volume over the forecast period, with the balance of 91.77 million m3 or 81pc of volume coming from clearfells.

In line with the decrease in thinning volume, there is a comparable drop in the area for thinning over the forecast period.

Thinning area increases from an estimated 21,600ha this year to a peak of 34,100ha in 2023 and then shows a steady decline to 22,400ha in 2035.

It won't come as a great surprise that most of the wood will come from spruce - 97.74 million m3 or 85.9pc of total volume over the period.

Lodgepole pine and other conifers account for 4.8pc and 6.7pc of total volume respectively, while broadleaves account for the balance of 2.9pc, equivalent to 3.32 million m3 over the period.

The potential wood fibre available for energy and other uses totals 58.2 million m3 over the period of the forecast when the volume of small roundwood from the Coillte estate is excluded as most of this material goes to the panelboard mills.

This material available for energy increases more than doubles from 1.8 million m3 this year to 4.2 million m3 in 2035. The increase is due to the increasing volume of downgrade and wood residues in line with the increasing volume availability as outlined in the forecast.

*COFORD is the Programme of Competitive Forestry Research for Development and was formerly known as the National Council for Forest Research and Development. It is part of the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.The COFORD Council is a representative body of the forestry sector, appointed by the Minister of State for Forestry to decide R&D policy and priorities, oversee annual budgets and spending, and provide direction to the executive.

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