EXPORTS of forest products last year were worth more than €333 million to the economy, an increase of over 14% in value on the previous year, according to figures released by COFORD, the national council for forest research and development.
COFORD chairman, Michael Lynn, said this strong export performance was in the face of stiff competition in Britain and other markets. “Continued investment in innovation and marketing along the entire product chain, allied to realistic raw material prices, will be needed to maintain and grow these markets,” he said.
Figures released by COFORD show that a record three million cubic metres of round wood was harvested from Irish forests in 2007. This wood supplied the sawmilling, wood-based panel sector and energy sectors.
Coillte supplied 87% of the harvest, with the balance coming from an expanding private forest estate.
Harvest levels in private sector forests are increasing significantly and have the potential, according to COFORD, to grow ten-fold over the coming decade.
“Over the coming year wood energy output from state and private forests is set to grow significantly, at a time when other sectors of the economy are experiencing a slowdown, and jobs are once more in short supply,” said COFORD director, Dr Eugene Hendrick.
COFORD’s analysis also shows that sawn timber imports declined significantly in 2007, reflecting the downturn in house construction compared with 2006.
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