Planting of native woodlands as part of more commercial forests is being encouraged by the Government.
Forestry Minister Andrew Doyle said this is reflected in the incorporation of the Native Woodlands Establishment Scheme into the main Afforestation Scheme.
The latest forest inventory indicated that broadleaved forests represent 25.8% of our national forest cover.
“This is a very significant proportion of our forests, both in terms of area and potential value,” he said.
Mr Doyle was speaking at Talking Hardwoods, a Teagasc marketing event in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, which brought together broadleaf growers and users of hardwood timber.
The aim was to assist in the development of an indigenous hardwood market. Many of the broadleaf woodlands planted in Ireland since the early 1990s are now approaching thinning.
Mr Doyle said the production of good-quality timber depends on good management of broadleaf plantations.
“It is vital that broadleaf owners follow an active and appropriate management regime for their forest plantations,” he said.
Mr Doyle urged stakeholders to find out more about the options available, to seek advice and make contacts and gain the knowledge to make informed decisions on how to proceed, whatever stage their forest is at.
He described the Abbeyleix event as a unique opportunity for timber growers and the industry to participate in the development of the hardwood market.
Mr Doyle said the national target for broadleaf planting is 30% and this will be achieved through higher grant and premiums for broadleaf species which his department is providing.
He also announced a new training course for forest machine operators at the Teagasc College, in Ballyhaise, Co Cavan.
“A vibrant forestry sector provides a key source of revenue for the rural economy,” he said.
“The increase in timber production requires a trained workforce to enable harvesting, extraction and transporting of this timber.”
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