Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 20 August 2018

A €2.2bn industry with truly vast potential

There is a greater appreciation at Government level of the economic and environmental benefits offered by sustainable forestry
There is a greater appreciation at Government level of the economic and environmental benefits offered by sustainable forestry

l10.5pc of agricultural land in Ireland is covered by private and state forests and forestry generates an estimated €2.2bn in economic activity.

l Government targets envisage increasing our forest cover to 17pc of the country's land over the next twenty years. This is the quivalent of an extra 14,700ha annually, but with new planting currently coming in at 6.500ha, we are well off the planting levels required to meet targets.

l 46pc of our forestry is privately owned while the other 54pc is owned by the State, mainly through Coillte.

l Annual timber production is 2.84m cubic metres, but with private production set to rise over the next decade, production is predicted to reach 3.2m cubic metres by 2028.

l Some 12,000 people are employed in forestry and downstream timber processing at saw mills, furniture companies and increasingly in the wood energy sector.

l There is over capacity in the saw milling sector at the moment with many sawmills relying on imports, mainly from Scotland, to maintain a full working roster for employees.

l Our moderate climate gives Ireland a distinct advantage over its European competitors in growing capacity terms.

l The main tree species grown in Ireland are spruce (83pc) and pines (10pc) with conifers accounting for 7% of the annual timber harvest.

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