Forestry can deliver 20pc of our climate action targets
Irish forests are locking away as much CO2 as was produced by all the licenced cars in Dublin or all the households in Cork, Waterford and Kerry combined, according to Forest Industries Ireland (FII) chairman Brian Murphy.
And managed forests in Ireland have the potential to provide 20pc of our climate change solution, he told a forestry conference.
Forests alone have the potential to help mitigate up to 20pc of the EU's CO2 emissions by 2050, and wooden skyscrapers or 'plyscrapers' are being built in Norway, with the highest being 14 storeys in Bergen.
The Minster for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, said: "We have invested nearly €3bn in forestry since the 1980s which, through ongoing sustainable forest management, can contribute up to delivering abatement of up to 20 million tonnes of CO2 over the period 2021 to 2030.
"This is a major component of Ireland's climate change action.
"However, we need to increase participation rates in the forestry programme to maximise benefits for climate action, the environment and rural communities."
Mr Murphy said Ireland's managed forests grow extremely fast, producing valuable straight trees that soak up harmful CO2.
"As an added bonus, our industry is scheduled to provide an additional 6,000 jobs in rural Ireland as the current forestry crop matures, creating important income for thousands of forestry workers, farmers and landowners in the process," he said.
Leading European forestry academic Professor Pekka Kauppi said: "Managed forests are the most scalable way to deal with harmful emissions. Forests and wood-based products offer sustainable, long-term solutions to the climate change problem.
"Forests act as carbon sinks and there are hundreds of valuable products that can be made from sustainably produced wood.
"The forest sector is a very significant sector for climate change mitigation, an important partial solution, internationally and nationally, and reducing global emissions from fossil fuels will take time."
He also said Climate Smart Forestry (CSF) is one approach for achieving these goals and can help mitigate the EU's CO2 emissions by up to 20pc by 2050. "All nations must now act responsibly in their forest sector," he said.
Irish forests sequestered 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 on average per year - equivalent to 60pc of the CO2 emitted annually cars on Irish roads.
Last year, Ireland produced 1.9 million tonnes of wood products which contained 1.6 million tonnes of CO2, which is the same amount produced by 525,000 cars (almost as many cars in Dublin) or 291,000 households (almost the amount of houses in Cork, Kerry and Waterford).
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