THERE is no recession in the country’s forestry sector as wood prices soar, the Irish Timber Growers Association has declared.
ITGA technical director Donal Whelan said forest owners in Ireland are achieving record prices for their wood and sawmills.
“Over the past six months, wood prices paid to timber growers have more than doubled and even at current price levels the industry cannot meet demand for its output.
“Incredibly, roundwood is being imported from Scotland by sea to supply our timber industry and this is now likely to continue into the future. The simple fact is that Ireland faces a critical shortage in wood supply.”
Mr Whelan said wood supply from forests is forecast to increase from 3.8 million cubic metres at present to 6.5m by 2028 according to preliminary figures from the sector.
However, despite this, the current shortage in wood supply is set to grow within the next eight years.
“Most of our sawn timber and output from our boardmills is now exported and the industry has made great strides in exporting much of the volume which would have been sold into the home market during the construction boom years…
“With economic output from the wider forest and timber industry calculated at around €1.89 billion for 2008 or just under 1% of GDP, the sector is poised to contribute significantly to Ireland’s economy.”
Mr Whelan said this level of activity will have major implications for rural employment and the rural economy.
The ITGA stressed the importance of support schemes, including forest roads, to help secure this future wood supply.
With the growing acknowledgement of forestry’s role in climate change and as a source of green energy and rural income and employment, the Government must ensure these benefits are protected and encouraged.
Mr Whelan said the Government has spent €90 million on the purchase of carbon credits, while it is estimated the forestry programme can save the taxpayer €220m over the five years to 2012 in terms of complying with Ireland’s Kyoto targets.
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