Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 November 2018

'Colossal' demand for forestry land

Forestry planting is not keeping up with the demand for timber in Ireland
Forestry planting is not keeping up with the demand for timber in Ireland
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

The forestry industry has called on the Agriculture Department to help free up land to be planted, as there is not enough timber to meet the 'colossal' demand.

General manager of SWS Forestry, Padraig Egan, said that the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment is the lack of suitable available land.

"The type of land that has been planted within the last 10 years is the heavy grass, rushier type land, marginal agricultural type land.

"That is going to run out in this country but there is a massive resource," he said.

Mr Egan was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships after the department unveiled the forestry planting programme.

Minister of State Tom Hayes confirmed the scheme was now open for applications.

Mr Egan wants to see more land made available for planting but described the introduction of the new programme as a good move for the industry.

"The new scheme is good, I think it's attractive for farmers but is also attractive for investors.

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"Now that investors don't have to qualify as a farmer an investor can be a teacher, a plumber, a county council worker, he can go and buy a bit of pension for himself and buy a bit of land for a premium and that is marvellous."

Conor Daly, a director at The Forestry Company, was also positive about the scheme but urged the department to get the message out there.


"The biggest thing the department have to do is get the message out to people that this scheme is there.

"They're not doing a huge amount of advertising to get the message out there. They're leaving it up to the industry."

He said that the programme is positive for both farmers and the industry, Mr Daly still maintains that there isn't enough trees being planted to meet demand.

"There's a huge demand for timber in Ireland, colossal demand. The mills can simply not get enough timber.

"Every year there's 100,000 truckloads of timber brought into the country, it's colossal we just don't have enough timber in the country and we're not planting enough timber now to meet demand.

"We're simply not planting enough trees in Ireland," Mr Daly said.

Mr Daly was critical of the department for not increasing the planting aid.

He said that it poses a genuine problem for the timber industry.

"They failed to increase the planting grant and we're finding it very difficult to make a margin out of the whole scheme," he said.

"The costs have gone up but what we're taking in the planting grant hasn't and they'll have to address that issue because it is a big issue."

The measures to encourage forestry plantations come as Ireland seeks to use woodland as a carbon bank as it tries to meet reduce emissions under strict targets.

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