Timber growers cautioned to protect wood stocks from 'thieves and rogues'
The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) has urged forest owners to protect their valuable wood harvest against the growing problem of timber theft.
The spiralling cost of home heating oil has driven a significant increase in demand for firewood in recent years and, with it, the risk of timber theft.
In 2008, Irish homeowners used around 171,000t of firewood, valued at €24.8m. However, by 2011, demand for firewood grew to 214,000t, valued at more than €31m.
Although official statistics on timber theft are not available, there is anecdotal evidence that this growth in demand for firewood has led to increased theft of both standing trees and harvested loads of timber at the roadside.
Donal Whelan of the ITGA said that while timber theft was not a huge problem for growers yet, it was likely to become a serious issue in the coming years.
"A standard load of timber at the roadside weighs around 27t and, depending on the size of the timber, could be worth anything from €25-75/t," he said.
"That would put the value of a load at €700 at the lowest end and up to €2,000 at the upper end," he added.