Conference will address potential valueof forestry

THE potential value of thousands of acres of farmland under forestry in this country will come under the microscope at a national conference on forestry tomorrow.

The conference, under the title Enhancing the Asset Value of Farmer Plantations is expected to attract a large attendance at the South Court Hotel, Raheen, Limerick where it will open at 10.30am.

Pat Lehane, chairman, IFA National farm Forestry Section said that one of the main questions being asked by farmers is the value of their forestry in the future. He believes the response to the question will be delivered at the conference.

“That is part of the reason why we decided to hold this conference: the concern by many farmers beyond the premia payments; I expect that it will be answered on the day.

“We think now it is extremely important that there is a value on forestry at all parts of the rotation, and not just at maturity, because there are people who do not want to hold on to it for that long for various reasons,” he added.

The conference will open with an address by IFA leader, John Dillon and the keynote address by Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, John Browne, TD.

In the opening session Richard Lowe, Marketing and Business Development Manager, Coillte will address how to achieve a management programme to ensure optimum productive return from conifers.

Brendan Lacey, Chief Executive, Irish Forest Unit Trust will address the market development for semi-mature plantations.

The potential for residential development in established plantations and the effects of EU and national policy on then farm forestry Industry will be addressed in an afternoon session. The economics of farm forestry versus other farm enterprises will be analysed by Jasmine Behan, Research Officer, Teagasc in the final session tomorrow afternoon.

Pat Lehane also said: “There is a very interesting aspect to the Spatial Strategy being planned at the moment which is looking at what type of rural housing development we should have.

“There seems to be a school of thought that where forestry has been developed would be very suitable areas for either once off developments, or smaller blocks of houses, because it would blend in well with the natural landscape in a forestry area.”

He said farmers are also realising that forestry remains one of the few sectors in which there is scope for expansion.

This means that there is potential in forestry, but that also relies on there being a value on the timber as well.

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